In 2012, Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana starting in January 2014. Although recreational use is permitted, it’s important for Coloradans and people visiting to understand Colorado marijuana laws.
Marijuana use is governed by rules and regulations that dictate how much of the drug you may possess and cultivate. Violation of these laws can lead to fines, jail time, and other penalties.
Colorado Marijuana Laws
Legal Age to Purchase Marijuana
In Colorado, recreational marijuana use is permitted by the Colorado Constitution (Article 18, Section 16). To legally purchase cannabis in the state, you must:
- Be at least 21 years of age with a government-issued ID to prove your age (such as a driver’s license or passport), OR
- A valid medical marijuana prescription for treating an illness.
If you are between the ages of 18 and 21, you can use a medical marijuana prescription to purchase pot legally in Colorado.
You do not have to be a resident of Colorado to purchase marijuana, but only state residents can acquire a medical marijuana card.
It is still illegal to purchase cannabis from an unlicensed source.
As of June 2016, Coloradans and tourists may purchase up to 28 grams of marijuana in a single transaction. Recreational stores will generally only serve customers once a day.
Adults can possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana in Colorado. Technically, the law permits the possession of up to 1 ounce of THC. The way in which the law is written allows Coloradans and visitors to also purchase edibles, concentrates, topicals, cannabis seeds, and other similar products.
In 2016, the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division imposed restrictions on how much concentrated cannabis and edibles residents and tourists can possess. These products have more THC than other forms of marijuana, so the possession rules were adjusted accordingly.
By law, you may have:
- 1 ounce of cannabis flowers, or
- 8 grams of concentrate (also known as hash, marijuana concentrate, wax, resin or shatter), or
- 800 mg of edibles
If you plan to purchase a mix of these products, a licensed recreational marijuana store can help you determine the legally acceptable limits for each purchase.
In Colorado, adults may share (but not sell) up to one ounce of cannabis with another adult 21 years of age or older.
You can carry cannabis in your vehicle, but it must be inside of a sealed container. You cannot cross Colorado state boundaries with the pot in your vehicle. It is also illegal to use marijuana while in your vehicle.
You may not fly out of Denver with marijuana. Other airports in the state have similar rules, but some are less strict.
If you have the legal right to use or possess cannabis in Colorado, then you may also grow, transport, and possess cannabis plants. The state permits up to six plants per resident over the age of 21. However, you cannot have more than three mature plants.
As of 2018, all residences are limited to a maximum of 12 plants. Counties and cities may have stricter laws in place.
Marijuana plants must be grown in a secure, enclosed place that is not open or public. You must process the plant at the site it is grown, and you cannot sell it.
Sale of Marijuana
Cannabis can only be sold at a licensed marijuana dispensary. Not all dispensaries sell recreational pot. Some only sell medical marijuana.
Marijuana stores may legally operate from 8 am until midnight, but cities may have their own rules. For example, marijuana stores in Denver must close by 10 pm.
Use of Marijuana
Colorado marijuana laws are a little vague when it comes to using cannabis. Law prohibits the use of marijuana in an open, public place.
Tourists who want to partake while visiting Colorado may visit a private cannabis club, where patrons may consume cannabis products safely and legally.
Public consumption of marijuana is illegal and can result in a fine or ticket.
What about National Parks and Federal Property?
Because marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, it is illegal to use cannabis on federally owned properties, including:
- National parks, monuments, and forests
- Post offices
- Veterans Administration buildings
- Federal housing
- Private facilities on federal land
Violating this law can result in:
- Up to 1 year in jail, and
- A fine of up to $1,000 for the first offense
Subsequent offenses can result in mandatory jail time, longer maximum sentences, and fines.
Driving Under the Influence
Colorado marijuana laws set a legal limit for the amount of active THC that may be in your system while driving (5 nanograms or less of THC per milliliter of blood). If THC levels are above the legal limit, you may be charged with a DUI.
Coloradans and tourists alike must be smart and avoid driving while under the influence.
Colorado marijuana laws are constantly evolving, so it’s important to make sure that you understand the most up-to-date rules and laws before visiting the state or purchasing marijuana as an adult resident. If you are facing charges related to Colorado marijuana laws, it is best to contact an experienced attorney right away.