COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Colorado Springs City Council approved two ordinances Tuesday banning marijuana possession inside the city airport and all city-owned buildings.
The ordinances cover both medical and recreational marijuana. Violators could be fined as much as $100 for a first offense, and up to $500 for second and additional offenses.
Britt Haley of the City Attorney's Office said the ordinances are intended to keep the city in line with federal guidelines since marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
The city's police chief, Pete Carey, said he and the council agreed that violators should not have a criminal record or serve jail time unless a person has repeated violations. In such cases, he said, a judge will have flexibility to give stronger punishment.
Council members did not comment, as they often do, before voting. However, four city residents voiced their concerns during a public hearing ahead of the vote. They questioned the need for the ordinances.
"At the airport, what about if you work in a rental car facility, a restaurant or the souvenir shops?" resident Bob Wiley asked.. "Are these people going to be impacted? What about people with medical conditions? These people medicate several times during the day. They need to have their medicines with them."
"People aren't allowed to smoke or drink alcohol in city buildings," resident Sara Griffin said. "We haven't needed an ordinance for that. Why do we need one now? This is a petty attempt to prolong a prohibition. It's time to treat people as the adults they are, as responsible citizens in a free country."
Mark Slough of iComply, a local marijuana activist group, was among those opposed to the ordinances.
"The reality is someone shouldn't have the right to confiscate your personal possessed property -- and just for having marijuana on you, not using it in public buildings," he said.
Raven Martinez, another resident, wondered how far enforcement will go.
"Do you confiscate inhalers (next)?" she asked. "Do you confiscate any kind of pharmaceutical drugs that have been prescribed? Any kind of pills?"
The responsibility for enforcing the law in more than 130 city buildings, belongs to the supervisors of each building. Carey said the city doesn't have enough resources to place an officer at every building or provide "amnesty boxes" where people can dispose of their marijuana.
Under the ordinances, the city will post signs warning people of the bans, and building supervisors who believe people have marijuana will ask them to place the drug in their vehicles before entering the buildings.
The ordinances become effective after a second reading by the council next week and a signature by Mayor Steve Bach.
The council voted 6-3 for the marijuana ban in city buildings and 8-1 for the airport ban.