Marijuana

Is It a Crime for Friends to Consume Cannabis on a Front Porch?

Six friends? Stick with the sodas.
Six friends? Stick with the sodas. Friends
The legislative session that ended May 10 was generally a good one for cannabis consumers, says Cindy Sovine-Miller, the lobbyist featured in Joel Warner's story "Higher Calling." But one of the biggest marijuana bills, SB 184, which would have created statewide rules for "open and public" consumption, died after "taking a turn for the scary in conference committee" on the last day of the session, she says.

The bill had started as a tool for local governments on regulating social use but wound up becoming the cannabis equivalent of a Carrie Nation crusade when lawmakers added last-minute language that would have made it illegal to consume cannabis at home if the consumption was visible by any person from any legal vantage point...and that included looking into a home from a window.

The prudey-pants language, which had been slapped down a week earlier, kept popping back up on May 10. "It was a moving target all day," Sovine-Miller remembers. Legislators debated allowing consumption in back yards and on front porches, and exactly how many people could consume on that porch.

"It was ultimately changed to exempt the property owner and up to five friends consuming on the front porch, but six friends was criminal activity," she says. "There was literally a picture from the series Friends displayed on the House screen during the debate." Because under the proposed rule, one of the cast members would have been out in the cold during a pot party, unless the friends wanted to film an episode in the pokey.


Cindy Sovine-Miller kept an eye on SB 184. - ANTHONY CAMERA
Cindy Sovine-Miller kept an eye on SB 184.
Anthony Camera
But cooler heads prevailed, and ultimately the full House and Senate rejected the conference-committee report and adhered to their original positions on the bill, effectively killing it as time ran out on the calendar.

"That issue is going to need some work," Sovine-Miller notes. The work is already under way in Denver, which released the draft regulations for Initiative 300 yesterday.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun