Vail Police Get Blunt With New Marijuana Use Campaign

Vail police are tired of telling people to stop smoking weed in public.
Vail police are tired of telling people to stop smoking weed in public. Flickr/Jeffrey Beall
The Vail Police Department wants residents and visitors of the mountain town to pay more attention to Colorado's marijuana laws with a new campaign, “Vail Let’s Be Blunt.”

Launched this year, “Vail Let’s Be Blunt” is designed to inform residents and tourists about responsible marijuana use, as well as remind them about state pot laws through humor, according to Vail Police Department Administrative Commander Craig Bettis.

“People don’t think of messages coming from law enforcement as positive or using humor,” he says. “They usually expect to hear about crimes or investigations. We’re using humor to break down preconceived notions and do a better job of relating to the community.”

Slogans include “A vacation should not include probation” and “The only thing ‘Baked’ on top of the mountain are the cookies in the restaurant,” with seasonal images reflecting recreation offered at different times of the year (one of the latest posts features a snow globe for this winter). Bettis says the point of the campaign is not about advocating or discouraging marijuana use, but giving people the right information.

“We don’t want people to come here and get in trouble,” he says. “We want to get the information out so people can use marijuana responsibly and hopefully share that same message with someone else. It’s a way for people to think about if where they’re using marijuana is safe, such as using it on the slopes or in the forest lands.”

Although legalized for recreational use in Colorado since 2012, public pot consumption is banned in Colorado, and that includes ski mountains. Marijuana possession and consumption is still illegal on national forest lands, which are also located in Vail.

click to enlarge An example of the new campaign material. - VAIL POLICE DEPARTMENT
An example of the new campaign material.
Vail Police Department
According to Bettis, there has been a steady trend of marijuana use in Vail's public areas, such as the White River National Forest, since recreational marijuana was legalized, as well as increased reports of marijuana left in hotel rooms after checkout (possessing marijuana in hotels isn't illegal, but smoking inside them is).

Local law enforcement decided a more easygoing campaign would help get the message across instead of warnings and scoldings. “It brings a different spin to how people receive messages from law enforcement,” Bettis explains. “It helps us be more educational, but also do it with a more creative mindset with an addition of humor.”

Visuals for “Vail Let’s Be Blunt” will receive feedback from the community online, and incorporate the feedback into potential future campaigns, Bettis adds.

“We’re not sure if this is going to stay permanently yet, but the idea is gaining traction,” he says. “We’ll take the feedback we get online and see if we can use it for future campaigns. This is a shift in paradigm in how we’re communicating with the public, so hopefully they’ll keep enjoying the new way of educating people about marijuana use.”
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