As you know, public marijuana smoking is illegal in Colorado under Amendment 64, which legalized limited recreational pot sales in the state.
And cannabis fans who've gotten around the ban through the use of vape pens will find it increasingly difficult to do so.
Greenwood Village is just the latest Colorado community to look into prohibiting the use of electronic vaping devices in public — and while not every e-cigarette is loaded with marijuana, the possibility that pot consumers are getting around current rules is among the reasons municipal officials are acting now.
The vape-pen ban ordinance was a featured item during a Greenwood Village city council meeting earlier this month. We've included the document in its entirety below, but the following excerpt presents the arguments in favor of its passage, complete with a pointed reference to marijuana.
The use of vaping devices is growing, particularly among minors. From 2013 to 2014, use of e-cigarettes among high school students increased from 4.5% to 13%, and among middle school students from 1.1% to 3.9% - an increase from 120,000 students to 450,000 students.
Since 2014, the state of Colorado has defined “tobacco product” and “cigarette” to include any device that can be used to deliver tobacco or nicotine to the person inhaling from the device, and prohibited their sale to minors. Despite this, their popularity among minors continues to grow.
In addition to having a new and even larger generation of minors addicted to nicotine, another concern with the growing use of vaping devices is the subversion of marijuana laws. There are just as many if not more vaping devices made specifically for marijuana consumption than are made for ingesting nicotine. Since vaping devices can easily mask the odor of marijuana however, it is virtually impossible for law enforcement to know whether a person vaping in public is in fact violating the state constitution’s prohibition against “open and public” consumption of marijuana.
The ordinance quotes figures from the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation calculating that there are presently "438 jurisdictions across the country that now ban e-cigarettes wherever smoking is banned," including fourteen in Colorado.
Moreover, nine of the Colorado places restrict vape pens in indoor and outdoor venues — and that's an important consideration in Greenwood Village, home to Fiddler's Green amphitheater, one of the larger and more popular outdoor-music venues in the Denver area.
CBS4 points out that Colorado communities prohibiting public vaping include Arvada, Boulder, Fort Collins, Golden and Littleton.
The Greenwood Village ordinance would ban "the use of vaping devices in all areas where smoking is currently prohibited, and expands the prohibition of smoking in public buildings to include public parks, open space and trails, public transit waiting areas, and outdoor entertainment venues and amphitheaters," the aforementioned document states," adding, "The purpose of expanding smoking prohibitions in such areas is to further protect the public from exposure to second-hand smoke and to prohibit the open and public consumption of marijuana that occurs by way of vaping devices. In addition, banning vaping where smoking is prohibited and expanding smoking restrictions will reduce the likelihood that the public will associate the use of electronic smoking devices with healthful behavior, reduce the likelihood of minors becoming addicted to nicotine, and help ensure compliance with existing smoking and marijuana restrictions."
However, the regulation wouldn't "extend the restriction of outdoor smoking to outdoor areas of restaurants," because "the Village's restaurant owners and managers have not had an opportunity to weigh in on such a measure," the proposal continues. "Currently, whether to allow smoking on patios at restaurants is left up to the individual proprietor. None have asked for smoking ban on patio areas, nor has any resident. Staff has, however, had requests for more outdoor smoking restrictions at large public venues such as Fiddler’s Green amphitheater, despite smoking already being prohibited by the operators of the facility."
The next vote on a Greenwood Village public-vaping ban is slated for February 1, CBS4 notes. See the station's report below, followed by the ordinance and audio from the most recent city council discussion on the topic.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.