Marijuana in Parks and Open Space

October 21, 2015

  • To: Boulder County Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee
    c/o Renata Frye, rfrye@bouldercounty.org
  •  
  • From: Colorado NORML
  •  
  • Subject: Marijuana in Parks and Open Space
    Proposed Revision of Rules and Regulations
    Committee Meeting October 22, 2015
  •  
  • Date: October 21, 2015

Summary: On behalf of our many Boulder County members and all law-abiding marijuana consumers and medical marijuana patients who visit and enjoy Boulder County parks and open space, the Colorado chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) urges the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee to reject the staff recommendation to add rule and regulation No. 14 that criminalizes lawful marijuana possession, display, transporting and transfer, and to not recommend this revision to the Board of County Commissioners.

Discussion: While the Board of County Commissioners has the statutory power to adopt rules and regulations pertaining to Boulder County Parks and Open Space areas as a Colorado government locality, it cannot create an offense that violates the Colorado Constitution.

Proposed rule and regulation 14, “Marijuana,” states:

It shall be unlawful to cultivate, process, sell, trade, distribute, possess, or consume marijuana or any marijuana derivative within any County Parks and Open Space area.

This directly violates the Colorado Constitution. The provision below was enacted with the support of a substantial majority of Boulder County voters in 2012 who voted for Amendment 64. Article XVIII, Sec.16 (3)(a)(3), Personal Use of Marijuana, states in relevant part:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the following acts are not unlawful and shall not be an offense under Colorado law or the law of any locality within Colorado or be a basis for seizure or forfeiture of assets under Colorado law for persons twenty‐one years of age or older:

(a) Possessing, using, displaying, purchasing, or transporting marijuana accessories or one ounce or less of marijuana.

. . .

(c) Transfer of one ounce or less of marijuana without remuneration to a person who is twenty one years of age or older.

(d) Consumption of marijuana provided that nothing in this section shall permit consumption that is conducted openly and publicly or in a manner that endangers others.

Proposed rule and regulation 14, which would punish a first offense with a $150 fine, goes too far. It is unquestionably lawful and constitutional protected in Colorado for a person over 21 to possess, display, transport, or transfer without remuneration up to one ounce of marijuana anywhere, particularly outdoors in an area open to the public. No exceptions are provided in Article XVIII for a county or other locality to enact more restrictive laws.

On the other hand, open and public consumption and outdoor cultivation of any amount of marijuana is unlawful anywhere in Colorado, including County parks and open space. Other localities have enacted enabling ordinances to permit local enforcement consistent with the constitution, such as Boulder Revised Code sec. 5-10-2 - Consumption of Marijuana in Public Prohibited. This is as far as County rules and regulations need to go. Of course, it has always been unlawful to cultivate anything, including marijuana, on County parks or open space land.

Please do not recommend unconstitutional section 14 as proposed to the Board of County Commissioners. Thank you for considering our views.

Colorado NORML Board of Directors

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