Town of Nederland's Vote on Pot Legalization Going to Ballot

Boulder Weekly | February 4, 2010
The Town of Nederland’s Board of Trustees voted Tuesday night to send a marijuana legalization measure to the April 6 ballot.

The proposal would remove all criminal penalties in Nederland municipal code related to marijuana, its concentrates and paraphernalia for anyone who is at least 21 years old.

Voters in Breckenridge passed a similar measure last year.

Only four of the seven Nederland board members were present at the Feb. 2 meeting, and the vote was 3-1, according to Town Administrator Jim Stevens. Voting in favor were Roger Cornell, Sumaya Abu-Haidar and Marci Wheelock. Voting against was Joe Gierlach.

Stevens told Boulder Weekly that the Nederland town clerk determined that a petition circulated around town had gained the necessary number of signatures to be considered by the board, leaving board members with the choice of simply adopting the ordinance or sending it to the voters.

He says that while voter approval of the measure could send a message, it may actually “cost people more money,” because the municipal fine for marijuana possession is smaller than the state fine.

According to Stevens, the town’s law, which would be repealed if the measure passes, fines violators up to $100 for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, while the state law, which would remain in effect even if the measure passes, calls for a fine of up to $500. Town police would still enforce the state law, even if the municipal one is changed.

“Now, instead of going to court here in town, [violators] would go to Boulder [to District Court],” Stevens says. “The whole idea is for publicity, because Breckenridge did it. … Well, maybe we should do it, but it’s not going to help anybody. It makes a statement, but at some point, maybe reality will set in.”

Nederland Mayor Martin Cheshes, who was reached by cell phone while on an ambassador assignment in Sierra Leone, declined to comment.

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