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Colorado ski town allows marijuana - The Daily Telegraph, 31 Dec 2009
Breckenridge, a ski resort in Colorado popular with British holidaymakers, now allows people to smoke marijuana without fear of arrest.
"Breckenridge is only the second American city to decriminalise cannabis"
Under a new law voted in by local residents, it will be legal for anyone aged over 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana.
Drugs paraphernalia such as giant cigarette rolling papers, small pipes and bongs will also be allowed in the resort, which already has a reputation for a lively nightlife.
The resort has been dubbed "the Amsterdam of the Rockies" over the move, but restrictions will be tighter than in the Dutch capital.
Buying, selling or growing cannabis will remain illegal in Breckenridge as will smoking or displaying it in public.
Last week, a 41-year-old man died at the ski resort after ploughing into a tree, the second such fatal accident at Breckenridge this season.
The ski area, which is run independently of the town, will continue to enforce an existing state ban on using the lifts, slopes and trails while under the influence of the drug. A resort spokesman said the new ordinance "does not change at all the way we run our resort", and that staff and guest safety was “our highest priority.
Anyone who causes a disturbance while stoned will also be arrested.
The local police department said it had been inundated with telephone calls asking for precise details about the new law.
Residents voted by a three to one margin in November in favour of the change. Supporters said they wanted to send a message to local police to stop arresting small-time cannabis smokers.
Breckenridge is only the second town or city in America to decriminalise cannabis, after Denver, the Colorado capital.
The potential for drug busts on the Breckenridge city limits could be a hazard for cannabis users, as could the fact that the drug will still be illegal under state law.
However, Colorado officials have indicated they will respect the town's decision.
"There is no sense in criminalising a substance that is far less toxic, less addictive and less problematic than alcohol," said Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado, a cannabis legalisation campaign group which fought for the law change.
Medical use of marijuana has surged in popularity in Colorado as well as California, compounding police problems in tackling illegal use.
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