Denver residents will be permitted to smoke pot in their front yard or on a balcony, even if they can be seen from a street or sidewalk.
The City Council voted 10-3 on Monday to allow the use of marijuana in the open, as long as it’s on private property, two weeks after giving preliminary approval to another measure that would have banned use of the drug on private property if it could be seen or smelled by others.
But city officials adopted another amendment a week later that reversed their position.
The measure that was eventually passed bans the possession of marijuana for anyone under 21 years old and prohibits anyone from consuming pot in public.
A first violation could result in a $150 fine, while a second violation carries a $500 fine and subsequent violations can result in $999 fines.
Colorado will join Washington on Jan. 1 in legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana to adults.
More than 110 stores have applied for licenses to sell pot, and Denver expects fewer than 12 will open at the start of next month.
Denver officials aren’t quite sure what to expect, other than lots of out-of-state visitors.
"We could have thousands of people lined up,” said Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown. “They will camp out. They will have cash in their pockets.”
Brown said he was worried that a limited number of shops permitted to open would create problems that will be reported by the international media that are expected to arrive in Denver as the law goes into effect.
But police said they would be fully staffed on New Year’s Day to handle any problems that might arise.
The city debuted a new website Monday to explain what’s allowed and what isn’t, and the Denver Post has hired a marijuana editor, Ricardo Baca, to cover the new law and its impact.
City Council is still discussing a measure that would ban marijuana sales, growth or distribution on city-owned property within 1,000 feet of a school.
Another measure would decriminalize possession of more than 1 ounce of marijuana for anyone between 18 and 21 years old.
[Image: 'Man smoking marijuana pipe' via Shutterstock]