Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana for individuals over the age of 21. Obviously, this is a huge victory for those who want the legalization of marijuana for every state in the union, but regardless of this victory, the state has implemented a new ordinance that involves the stench of marijuana.
Colorado police have introduced an odor ordinance for marijuana users that “pollute” the clean air with the smell of marijuana. According to complex.com, the ordinance can draw up to a $2,000 fine for those found guilty. The police are using technological advancement called the Nasal Ranger to determine appropriate levels of marijuana smell the air should contain. The device is $1,500, which does not operate to any effective level if the officer does not possess a good sense of smell.
Because marijuana is legal, the entire product and byproduct should be protected by the law, the byproduct being the smell.
Since Colorado decided to legalize marijuana, the state will indeed lose a good amount of income that has previously been obtained through issuing possession tickets. When the news of this ordinance was first announced to public, I could not help but think that this is a way to cover the lost income that was earned by possession tickets. Plus, fining people based on stench is such a slippery slope, and depends completely on the officer’s sense of smell. How is anyone who is accused of polluting the air with marijuana stench going to be able to dispute it with the officer? Smells dissipate over time, so it is a strong possibility that the odor will have dissipated before the ticket is even issued. Not to mention this is a complete waste of police resources. Policemen should not be shackled to the corners of neighborhood streets with obnoxious stench meters attached to their face, waiting for the slightest smell of marijuana to pass. They should be out enforcing laws that try to prevent illegal activity, and the use of marijuana does not fit into this specific category.
Imagine if something similar was enforced at Illinois State University. Let’s paint a hypothetical situation where ISU began to enforce a similar ordinance, but with cigarettes. People would be up in arms about a legal activity being supervised by the police. The same problem faces marijuana users of Colorado.
According to the Huffington Post, legal Marijuana taxes are going to “generate roughly $70 million in additional revenue for the state in 2014.” If marijuana taxes are this high and will generate such large revenue, the state is already earning enough money to cover the ordinance tickets. This ordinance needs to be removed from use. This country is ready for a complete legalization of marijuana. A recent Gallup poll found that 58 percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, the highest point in the nation’s history. This ordinance is slowing down the inevitable, which is the complete legalization of marijuana. Colorado needs to recognize that this new policy is ridiculous, wishy-washy and a complete waste of valuable law enforcement.
Chris Chipman is a junior english major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding his column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.