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Proposed Marijuana Law Revised To Allow Backyard Smoking

DENVER (CBS4) - Those who felt the proposed marijuana law in Denver went too far have gotten their way -- in part. The draft ordinance has been revised so that people don't have to worry about being cited for smoking pot in their backyards.

Open and public consumption of marijuana is banned by Amendment 64, but Denver City Council is still struggling with exactly what that means.

"The city and county of Denver is the epicenter of marijuana in Colorado, and maybe the country, and so we need to define it before we get to Jan. 1," Councilman Chris Nevitt said.

In parks the newly revised draft of the law would now lower the penalty for display and distribution of pot to $100 or 24 hours of community service. It's the same for the 16th Street Mall. Other public areas are treated differently. But it's the use on private property that is causing the controversy.

Even those who don't use marijuana can smell it perhaps coming from a neighbor's yard. Some people thought the ordinance was poorly written.

Last month the American Civil Liberties Union joined others in decrying the proposed ordinance as unconstitutional. Now the part that would make smoking in a backyard illegal has been dropped from the proposed ordinance, but not the front porch, which is visible from the street.

Councilwoman Susan Shepherd still won't vote for it the way it's currently written.

"I would say no. I still have grave concerns about the overreach onto private property," Shepard said.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, so those who are cited under local criminal laws can potentially face loss of federal benefits.

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