03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Breckenridge Legalizes Marijuana

The ski town of Breckenridge, Colorado, is the latest municipality to remove all penalties for private adult marijuana possession and possession of marijuana paraphernalia. As the Summit Daily reported:

Breckenridge residents voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and paraphernalia Tuesday under town law. In early returns, some 72 percent of voters approved the measure.

The vote means that, effective Jan. 1, people 21 and up in Breckenridge will be able to legally possess one ounce or less of the drug.

This is a noteworthy event in and of itself, but one has to wonder whether legal marijuana could be just what Colorado's slumping ski industry needs. Ski resorts are offering everything from large discounts to specialty cheeseburgers to attract people to their towns. Perhaps offering skiers and snowboarders a hassle-free environment in which they can relax and recreate with marijuana could do the trick.

As the organizers of the measure pointed out in their press release, the measure could also give extreme sports enthusiasts a safer alternative to alcohol when it comes to post-ride partying.

"This votes demonstrates that Breckenridge citizens overwhelmingly believe that adults should not be punished for making the safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol," said Sean McAllister, Breckenridge attorney and chair of Sensible Breckenridge.

After all, when's the last time you heard about a bar brawl breaking out because people got a little too stoned? Or a man becoming abusive with his wife because he had been out smoking pot? Chances are not very often, according to virtually every objective study ever done on marijuana and alcohol. Whereas alcohol has been found to contribute to aggressive and violent behavior, a link has never been established when it comes to marijuana.

It's too early to tell how the city's law enforcement officials will handle marijuana in light of the vote, but it's safe to say there is plenty of support behind letting marijuana consumers alone. As the presser mentioned:

The campaign, which had no formal opposition, received a chorus of local support including endorsements from Breckenridge Town Councilman Jeffrey Bergeron, Former Colorado State Representative and Breckenridge resident, Gary Lindstrom, and the Summit Daily News.

Mason Tvert is executive director of SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation) and coauthor of Marijuana Is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink? (Chelsea Green, August 2009)