|Denver on 4/20.
Marijuana smoking is not legal in public in Colorado, despite laws passed in 2012 legalizing the use and possession of limited amounts for adults 21 and up. But – right or wrong — with the relaxed pot laws comes an expectation that consumption should be tolerated. Just don’t expect that tolerance from the Denver police.
So far this year, Denver police have written 351 tickets for toking in public, a $150 fine. Of that many, 130 were at the annual 4/20 rally in Denver’s Civic Center Park.
“People have to learn. So there’s always that learning process,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told Denver’s 9News this week. “We have asked our officers and instructed them to be, to enforce the law. It’s like being the RA on the dorm floor. Early on you’re very restrictive. You enforce those rules hard so everybody gets the message.”
But are there more people smoking pot in public or are cops just becoming more vigilant? It is probably a mix of the two. Being based in Colorado, we at Toke have seen people openly consuming cannabis more and more around town but police are also likely writing more use tickets to compensate for not being able to write an infraction for possession anymore.
Not only that, but Denver and most cities in Colorado are not allowing people to consume cannabis in quasi-public places like clubs and bars. That leaves few places to actually consume cannabis other than a private residence or in a hotel room. Meanwhile, bars continue to openly serve alcohol from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. every single day of the week.
But since things don’t seem to be changing any time soon, the situation is best avoided by being smart about your pot use. Lighting up in a busy city park during an event isn’t a smart idea, nor is lighting up a spliff outside a downtown bar on a Friday night. Those are places were cops are anyway. Taking a trip out to a car to have a puff while out on the town or, better, a few discreet hits from a vape pen likely isn’t going to draw much attention these days.