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Denver City Council Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana For Minors

DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver City Council voted to decriminalize possession of marijuana for people under the age of 21.

The council approved a major change in the penalties for underage pot smokers Tuesday.

Now people between the ages of 18 and 21 caught with less than an ounce of pot will have a punishment similar to a parking ticket.

"What that means is it does not stay on your record if you have a marijuana offense in the future," said Denver City Councilmen Albus Brooks.

Brooks sponsored the bill and says that in Denver this year 140 people between 18 and 21 were caught with less than an ounce of pot.

Under the old law that arrest would be on the violator's permanent record.

"Just because you made a mistake does not mean you have to pay for it the rest of your life and not have a job," said Brooks.

Under the new law, underage pot smokers will face a $150 fine for the first offense, $500 for the second and $999 for any further offenses.

"It's still illegal. We just want to make sure we don't make people pay for the rest of their life," said Brooks.

The new law is getting mixed reviews from citizens.

"It just sends the wrong message. It should be a criminal activity for those under 21 and it should be kept that way," said local Baxter Fain.

"I think the council members stepped up with a responsible correction to an oversight in the law. It's a step in the right direction," said local Chris Chiari.

The new law will take effect as soon as the mayor signs it.

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