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.
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.
FAQs on Breckenridge’s decriminalization of marijuana, November 2009
In the Summit County, Colorado election on Tuesday, November 3, 2009, the voters of Breckenridge approved Question 2F, which asked: SHALL THE ELECTORS OF THE TOWN OF BRECKENRIDGE ADOPT AN AMENDMENT TO THE BRECKENRIDGE TOWN CODE, EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2010, REMOVING ALL CRIMINAL PENALTIES UNDER TOWN LAW FOR THE POSSESSION OF ONE OUNCE OR LESS OF MARIJUANA AND RELATED PARAPHERNALIA BY PERSONS TWENTY ONE YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER?
Breckenridge is governed by a home rule charter. The Charter gives electors of the Town the power to propose any ordinance to the Town Council through a petition process. In July 2009, a citizens’ initiated petition was submitted by Sensible Breckenridge to, and then certified as valid by, the Town Clerk. The petition called for an ordinance to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and related paraphernalia by persons twenty one years of age older. Breckenridge Town Charter requires the Town Council to either adopt the proposed ordinance or call a special election to allow the voters to approve or reject the ordinance.
In August 2009, the Council voted not to pass the citizen initiated ordinance and therefore by law, was presented to the voters for the Summit County Coordinated election on November 3rd. The Breckenridge voters approved the citizens’ initiated petition which decriminalizes the private possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and related paraphernalia by adults (ages 21 or older). Unofficial election results from Summit County reported 617 (71%) voted Yes, and 253 (29%) voted No. Full election results can be found at by clicking here.
What this means:
It is important to note that the passing of this ordinance does not legalize marijuana as per federal and state laws, but merely removes criminal sanctions through the Town’s municipal court. The Town believes that the passing of this ordinance is mainly symbolic and will not result in a noticeable change in our community.
It is still illegal for minors (those under 21 years of age) to possess or use marijuana.
It is still illegal to be under the influence of marijuana while operating a motor vehicle.
It is still illegal to openly display or use marijuana in public areas.
It is still illegal to possess more than one ounce of marijuana.
Selling, dispensing or cultivating marijuana is still a violation of Colorado state law, except as allowed by Amendment 20 of the Colorado Constitution concerning medical marijuana.
The Breckenridge Police Department may still exercise, at their discretion, the authority to charge those in violation of state or federal law.
The possession of marijuana is still a federal crime. Recently, however, President Obama has announced that his administration will not prosecute persons who possess marijuana pursuant to a state law allowing for the possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Denver voters approved a similar measure in 2005; however, Colorado law still prohibits marijuana possession and use. How will this work?
These laws basically decriminalize private possession of marijuana of one ounce or less but only on the municipal level. The possession of marijuana is still a violation of state law (classified as a petty offense), and a person who is found to be illegally in possession of marijuana in violation of state law is still subject to a fine of $50, plus court costs.
What is the ski area’s stance?
The Breckenridge Ski Resort, a separate entity which operates within both Town of Breckenridge and Summit County boundaries, has stated that they will continue to enforce state and federal laws and that it is illegal under the Skier Safety Act to use any trail, ski slope or lift while under the influence.
When will the passage of 2F be enacted?
It becomes effective January 1, 2010.
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