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Breckenridge, Colorado Decriminalizes Marijuana & Paraphernalia

Lost in all the Election Day hoopla of the GOP's big wins and Maine's rejection of gay marriage was a vote in a Colorado ski town that decriminalized marijuana. The tiny town of Breckenridge voted overwhelmingly to allow small amounts of pot, as well as marijuana paraphernalia.

Starting January 1, 2010, it will be legal for adults 21 and over to possess one ounce of marijuana or fewer.

Marijuana remains illegal under Colorado state law, but Breckenridge Police Chief Rick Holman said his department will “still have the ability to exercise discretion.”

“It's never been something that we've spent a lot of time on, so I don't expect this to be a big change in how we really do business,” he said.

The current penalty for small amounts of marijuana is a maximum $100 fine. In 2008, Breckenridge police ticketed just 10 people under the town marijuana possession law. For drug paraphernalia, which carries the same penalty, four were ticketed in 2008.

The new law, which passed with 72% of the vote, will not change laws prohibiting smoking in public, use by minors or driving under the influence.

In 2005, Denver became the first major city to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana after voters approved legislation similar to that in Breckenridge.


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