colorado marijuana cultivation laws

Colorado Cultivation License and Marijuana Laws

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The marijuana market in Colorado is one of the most mature legal cannabis markets in the United States. Colorado’s market is generally separated between “Medical Marijuana Businesses” and “Recreational Marijuana Establishments.”

Getting involved in a mature market will help your business mature more rapidly and give more strict guidance into what a true cannabis business should look like.

Below, we’ve provided a general outline of what it takes to obtain your Colorado grower license and maintain a compliant business. We will continue to update this page as new information becomes available.

Table of Contents

Colorado Marijuana Laws for Growers

Colorado set the bar and best practices in other states, making it much easier with set regulations and minor changes ensure compliance:

  • A separate license is required for each specific business or business entity and geographical location. Two marijuana centers/facilities may share a single licensed premise under some circumstances.
  • There are a total of 9 license types for medical businesses and 12 license types for recreational businesses, making Colorado’s market just as advanced as California’s.
  • Clear tracking of the plants from planting to harvest and transfer must be adequately documented in a system of record as well as submitted to the state through Metrc.

Types of Colorado Grow Licenses

A Colorado Medical Marijuana Cultivation Facility can be licensed in three different classes:

  • Class 1 (1-500 plants)
  • Class 2 (501-1500 plants)
  • Class 3 (1501-3000 plants)

This type of facility will require an application cost and license cost. A medical cultivation facility application cost is $300, and the Classes range from $1,500 to $3,500 with an additional $800 charge for any plant expansion beyond the 3000 plant limit.

A Colorado Recreational Marijuana Cultivation Facility has five Tiers of licensure:

  • Tier 1 (1-1,800 plants)
  • Tier 2 (1,801-3,600 plants)
  • Tier 3 (3,601-6,000 plants)
  • Tier 4 (6,001-10,200 plants)
  • Tier 5 (10,201-13,800 plants)

This type of facility will also require an application cost and license cost. A recreational cultivation facility application cost is $300, and the Classes range from $1,500 to $6,500 with an additional $800 charge for any plant expansion beyond the 3000 plant limit.

For a full list of licensing fees, check out the MED fee schedule.

Colorado Commercial Grow License Cost

The license application fee for growers, processors, and dispensaries is $2,500. This cost is per facility AND per license type. Renewal occurs every year and is $2,500 each.

Colorado Commercial Grow License Application Requirements

To obtain a license to open any business related to marijuana in Colorado, you must fill out a Marijuana License Application.

This application will include information about the owners and the legal business requirements and forms, such as tax and background checks. All processes and organizational structures should be documented for review by the state.

The application will also require you to mark off your desired business licensure, such as recreational or medical and related information, such as license type, business name and address, contacts, and stakeholders.

It’s best if you are fully prepared to start a marijuana business before even applying so that the application gets approved right away. Check out your local city regulations for a full application checklist.

Marijuana Compliance in Colorado

Colorado is contracted with Metrc, a statewide, mandatory tracking system that serves as the state system of record. All licenses in Colorado are required to keep adequate records to ensure that all inventory of plants and products are tracked to provide a clear line of origin.

Cultivators should keep records of harvest dates and follow all instructions set by Metrc to successfully tag and manage inventory. Transfers should also be managed with shipping manifests so that all transfers and taxes can be easily proven.

Metrc is a great tool and can be widely advantageous for any license in the state attempting to track their cultivation operation effectively. Still, it is not the only system of record that a licensee should use. A robust tool as 365 Cannabis can optimize your business operations, give you visibility into all processes occurring and inventory, and is a great system of record both financially and for cultivation.

How does 365 Cannabis fulfill this?

365 Cannabis is a true ERP that delivers a complete business management solution, facilitates compliance, and ensures timely and accurate reporting. With a centralized system, you’ll be able to reduce manual and double entry, nearly eliminating human error.

With a true cannabis ERP software that goes above and beyond seed to sale, you’ll be able to increase efficiency, improve productivity, and grow your cannabis cultivation business.

This article is meant to be a guideline for your reference and is not legal advice. Read more about Colorado marijuana regulations and prepare your application with a cannabis business consultant and/or law firm.

Colorado’s market is one of the most mature legal cannabis markets in the US. Join the market and learn how to acquire a Colorado cultivation license.

Marijuana Laws in Colorado

With the passing of Amendment 64, adults 21 or older in Colorado can legally possess one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana or THC.


If you are an adult 21 years of age or older, you can now legally possess 1 ounce of marijuana in Colorado. The way the amendment is worded actually allows for possession of 1 ounce of THC. This is great news because in addition to flower (bud), you can also enjoy many types of concentrates, edibles, topicals, etc. during your visit. Cannabis seeds are also available for sale in Colorado.

As long as you are 21 years or older, you have a constitutional right to possess and consume marijuana in Colorado. You will need a government-issued identification to prove you are 21 years or older, so a drivers license or passport would be sufficient enough. Note that you don’t need to be a Colorado resident to possess recreational cannabis and there isn’t any type of registration system. Only residents who apply for medical marijuana cards need to register with the state. Medical patients may possess up to 2 ounces.

Purchasing Limits

Previously, tourists in Colorado were restricted to purchasing 7 grams or less, while Colorado residents could purchase up to 28 grams. This law changed in June 2016, and now both tourists and residents can purchase 28 grams in a single transaction. Medical patients may purchase up to 2 ounces of medical marijuana or its equivalent as a standard, though higher amounts may be granted by the recommending physician.

The law has some grey areas regarding what constitutes a ‘single transaction,’ so most recreational stores err on the side of caution and will only serve you once a day. In the past, circumventing purchasing limits has been punishable by fines or even jail.

As of October 1st, 2016 the laws have changed.

The Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) in Colorado performed studies to determine what the THC equivalent of concentrates and edibles are in relation to marijuana in flower form. They argue that since products such as concentrates have a much higher level of THC, then you shouldn’t be able to purchase the same amount of concentrates as you can flower. As a result, the MED has issued ‘Marijuana Equivalency’ guidelines.

As of October 1 st , 2016 the following rules took effect in regards to recreational sales (medical sales remain unchanged):

  • 1oz Flower = 8g of Concentrate (Shatter, Wax, etc)
  • 1oz Flower = 800mg of Edibles

You can still mix and match, but it gets confusing. For example, you can purchase 2 grams of concentrate, but then you will be limited to buying an additional 3/4 oz of flower (as 2 grams of concentrate is now equivalent to 1/4oz of flower). These laws will be a big challenge for budtenders as they attempt to sell combinations of products while ensuring that the buyer is within the legal limits.

One important thing to note is these restrictions only apply to retail sales, not possession. You can legally possess up to 28 grams of concentrates or THC as defined in the Colorado Constitution. Where to Buy

Read more about Colorado’s recreational cannabis equivalency laws here.

Store Hours

Currently, the state allows marijuana stores to operate from 8am until Midnight. Having said this, cities are allowed to establish their own rules within the allocated timeframe. For example, Denver stores must close by 10pm. If you’re looking to purchase marijuana in Denver after 10pm, head to Edgewater and Glendale (two cities bordering Denver), which both allow stores to stay open until 12am. Another great option is Aurora, which allows stores to stay open until 10pm as well.


So you made it to Colorado and bought yourself a big bag of green. Great job! Now the question is: “Where can I smoke my weed?” This is a highly debated topic at the moment, so here’s some helpful insight into what’s legal and what’s practical.

First and foremost, you will find the following statement to be true during your visit:

Discretion is appreciated, and usually required.

Amendment 64 does NOT permit the consumption of marijuana “openly and publicly.” So before you start blazing those blunts while walking down the street, remember that you can still get a ticket for doing so, similar to open container laws for drinking in public.

In general, there aren’t any coffee shops or marijuana bars where you can purchase cannabis products like you might find in Amsterdam. However, thanks to Initiative 300, bring-your-own-cannabis lounges are beginning to open their doors to consumers.

In addition to the new social consumption lounges, several ‘private’ cannabis clubs are open to adults as well. These clubs are a great place for tourists and locals alike to come together and consume marijuana products safely and legally. Some even allow indoor smoking since they are ‘private,’ while others just allow inside vaping and outside smoking.

Remember, public consumption is illegal and can result in tickets and fines. Denver Police have also increased citations for public consumption over the years. In the first three quarters of 2014, Denver Police issued 668 public consumption citations. This amounts to a 470% increase from the same period in 2013, when 117 citations were issued. On 4/20 in 2018, police issued 72 citations, almost twice as many as the previous year.

Even though concert venues and bars are considered ‘private,’ prohibitionists argue that they are ‘publicly accessible private venues’, and therefore consumption of marijuana is prohibited. From our experience, it depends upon the place and the crowd. Most down to earth venues will usually turn a blind eye to things unless they are getting complaints or police visits.

To be discreet, edibles or a portable vaporizer can be your best friend. These have become very popular in Colorado, as they don’t really leave any odor and can be consumed almost anywhere. Social Lounges

Driving Under the Influence

A new DUI law is in effect in Colorado which sets a legal limit for the amount of active THC in your system while driving. The legal limit is 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood. This law was fiercely debated with the main issue being that people metabolize THC at different rates and as a result, the amount of impairment varies drastically from person to person. Unlike alcohol, where if you are over 0.08 you are impaired, it’s hard to determine if a person is impaired or not based upon THC levels alone.

The bottom line is be smart and don’t drive under the influence. If your car doesn’t smell like you ran over a pack of skunks and your eyes aren’t bloodshot, it is unlikely that you will be singled out. If the police do suspect you are driving stoned, they can require you take a blood test. Refusal to do so can result in similar penalties as refusing a breathalyzer test, such as loss of license.

The possibility of being involved in a serious car accident, even through no fault of your own, always exists, so it’s best to sleep off the high. The law does allow for a defendant charged with driving under the influence of marijuana to introduce evidence that pot did not impair their ability to drive. This is a last ditch strategy, the best advice is to simply drive sober.

In 2014, 354 people received marijuana only DUIs in Colorado. If you find yourself in need of legal representation for a marijuana DUI, we recommend Jeff Gard from Gard & Bond.

Colorado legalized recreational marijuana for in 2012 but legal cannabis sales did not start until 2014. We offer practical information about marijuana laws, regulations, and statutes for residents and those planning a trip or vacation to Colorado.