Speaker Crisanta Duran uses the gavel to get attention of lawmakers as they hurry to finish up, on the final day of the 2017 legislative session in the Colorado House of Representatives, at the Colorado State Capitol on May 10, 2017 in Denver. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

In final hours of session, Colorado lawmakers fail to define public use of marijuana

Colorado’s long debate over where people can smoke marijuana will continue for at least another year.

Wednesday night in the closing hours of the 2017 Legislature, the two chambers failed to reach a compromise on defining the prohibition on “open and public” marijuana consumption — a question that has been hanging over lawmakers since voters approved Amendment 64 legalizing cannabis in the state in 2012.

The House and Senate previously approved different versions of the legislation. A panel of negotiators met twice to discuss whether people could smoke pot on their front porches.

According to The Denver Post, the compromise reached allowed porch smoking as long as it involved only five people other than the residents of the home, a so-called “party of five” rule. But House lawmakers rejected the measure Wednesday, arguing it undermined voter intent and imposed an arbitrary limit.

“We’re talking about your own private property,” said Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora according to the Denver Post. “And why the number five? Why did we arbitrarily land on that number? We are literally putting things into statute with no explanation.”

Earlier in the legislative sessions, lawmakers at considered legislation to authorize Amsterdam-style pot clubs. That proposal had bipartisan support because of complaints that tourists and people who don’t want to smoke pot at home are smoking weed in public.

But the club proposal was abandoned weeks ago in light of opposition from Gov. John Hickenlooper and some other lawmakers.

Information from John Frank and Brian Eason of the Denver Post.