FEDERAL HEIGHTS — Times are tough for everyone, including pot smokers busted under the city's old possession law.
So the council, which represents about 12,000 people, decided last week to cut the fine for marijuana possession of an ounce or less from $1,000 to $500 and eliminate the possibility of jail time.
Marijuana advocates say the city was reacting to the dire economic climate and how prosecuting someone for a small amount of marijuana would be a financial hardship for both the suspect and the city.
"When you consider the massive fine someone could face, it could destroy them," said Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado, a nonprofit group pushing for reform of marijuana laws.
The city also will save itself money, time and effort in pursuing a petty offense under state law, said Mason Tvert, who heads Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, which claims pot smoking is safer than drinking.
A similar offense under state law would draw up to a $100 fine with no possibility of jail.
"If the council was looking at methamphetamines causing problems, obviously they wouldn't change anything," said Tvert. "This city has recognized marijuana is not the devil, not the horrible drug that's been talked about for 70 years."
City officials said they are not advocating abolishing pot laws. Rather, they were following the suggestion of the city prosecutor — aligning local law with the state law.