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A man smokes a joint during a rally for the legalization of marijuana Mexico City in this Sept. 5, 2010 file photo. (REUTERS/Henry Romero/Files) A man smokes a joint during a rally for the legalization of marijuana Mexico City in this Sept. 5, 2010 file photo. (REUTERS/Henry Romero/Files)  

Denver considers decriminalizing pot possession for 18-21 year-olds

Denver’s city council is considering a measure to close a glaring loophole in Colorado’s new legal marijuana laws, one that leaves everyone aged 18-20 at risk of disproportionate charges in the event they’re caught with the newly legalized drug.

Those who are caught with pot under the age of 18 are usually sent to the city’s juvenile assessment center for treatment, not jail. And anyone 21 or older caught breaking the few remaining restrictive laws pertaining to marijuana, such as smoking in public, are ticketed for a minor fine of $150.

But anyone falling between those age ranges is still susceptible to older laws in effect for everyone over the age of 18 before voters legalized adult pot use and possession in 2012. That means the possibility of a year in jail and a fine of up to $999 for those between the ages of 18 and 21 who are caught with less than an ounce of marijuana.

The disparity is expected to be addressed during the next legislative session, but Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks wants a citywide law for Denver in place before Jan. 1, when licensed retail stores can legally begin selling pot to adults.

He proposed to decriminalize marijuana possession for those between 18 and 21, with fines similar to those faced by adults, according to the Denver Post. Fines would begin at $150 and increase with subsequent infractions.

The bill is just the latest of several measures that hope to fine-tune the laws that are in place before the New Year. Denver expects thousands of people to turn out for the first days of legal marijuana sales at the handful of dispensaries that have been approved for licenses so far.

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