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marijuana cultivation laws in colorado

Colorado Laws re Marijuana

Updated September 5, 2020

Marijuana is a drug that is legal in the state of Colorado. However, the quantity one can possess, along with the sale and cultivation of the drug is heavily regulated.

To help you further understand crimes in relation to marijuana, this article will cover the following:

1. What is Marijuana?

Marijuana – also known as weed, pot, bud and a variety of other names – is comprised of leaves, flowers and stems from the plant, Cannabis sativa. It can be consumed in many ways from rolling cigarettes to smoking through pipes to placing in cigar wraps to replace tobacco, or it can even be consumed by putting it into food like brownies or cookies. Within the plant is the strong chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that passes through the lungs and enters the bloodstream. When spread throughout the body, users of the drug feel “high.” This high consists of rapid changes in mood, altered senses, body movement impairment, and other intoxicating, short-term effects.

Marijuana is sought out by many and has become the most commonly used drug in the nation. In 2012, Coloradans voted to legalize marijuana under Amendment 64. Several other states including Washington, Oregon and Alaska have followed suit. Although it is now legal to consume and possess marijuana, there are still limitations on what you can do. Anyone arrested for violating the limitations set forth in the Colorado statutes may face charges for doing so.

1.1. Marijuana Drug Classifications in Colorado

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a classification of controlled substances in 1970 that organizes drugs based on levels of abuse and addiction. All states, including Colorado, have utilized this categorization of drugs to aid in developing penalties and sentences for drug offenses.

Marijuana falls under Schedule I on this list. Many scientists have contested its appearance in this schedule for years — as it is in the same category as LSD and Ecstasy — claiming that research opportunities are incredibly restricted. However, in August 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) refused to alter the scheduling of the drug.

Schedule I: Drugs that are scheduled in this category are deemed as more likely to be abused. They may be used for medical purposes if prescribed by doctors. If users become addicted to these drugs, acute psychological and physical dependencies can easily develop. Marijuana, along with Codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, methadone, morphine, cocaine and methamphetamines are included in this schedule.

2. The Unlawful Possession, Sale, and Cultivation of Marijuana in Colorado

2.1. Unlawful Possession

Although smoking marijuana is legal, there are still regulations surrounding possessing more than the legal quantity of the drug for personal use. Penalties vary based on how much marijuana is a person has in his or her possession.

2.2. Unlawful possession penalties

Possessing more than one ounce up to two ounces of marijuana

Drug petty offense. This is punishable by a fine that can not exceed $100 1

More than two ounces up to six ounces of marijuana (or up to 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate)

This is a level 2 drug misdemeanor, punishable by 3-12 months in jail and/or a fine ranging from $250-$1,000. 2

More than six ounces of marijuana (or more than three ounces of marijuana concentrate)

This is a level 1 drug misdemeanor, punishable by 6-18 months in jail and a fine ranging from $500-$5,000. 3 4 5 6

3. The sale, transfer, or dispensing of an illegal amount of marijuana

The state of Colorado prohibits and imposes various sentences for the following:

  • The sale, transfer, or dispensing of more than 2.5 pounds of marijuana or more than 1 pound of marijuana concentrate to a minor if the person is an adult and 2 years older than the minor
  • The sale, transfer, or dispensing of more than 6 ounces, but not more than 6 ounces of marijuana or more than one-half ounce, but not more than 3 ounces, but not more than 1 pound of marijuana concentrate to a minor if the person is an adult and 2 years older than the minor
  • The sale, transfer, or dispensing of more than 1 ounce, but not more than 6 ounces of marijuana or more than one-half ounce, but not more than 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate to a minor if the person is an adult and 2 years older than the minor
  • The sale, transfer, or dispensing of not more than one ounce of marijuana or not more than one-half ounce of marijuana concentrate to a minor if the person is an adult and 2 years old than the minor

It is important to note that the sale of marijuana to minors has become a huge issue within the state, anyone found to be committing this crime can face strict consequences.

3.1. Penalties for the sale, transfer, or dispensing of an illegal amount of Marijuana

In Colorado, the sale, transfer and dispensing of marijuana is still illegal despite the legalization laws. The following quantities of marijuana cannot be distributed or sold in Colorado:

More than one ounce, but less than two ounces

Violators of this offense may pay a fine up to $100. 7

Display of less than two ounces

This offense is a class two petty offense, which is punishable by 15 days in jail or a fine up to $100.

Display of more than two ounces

This offense is classified as a class two misdemeanor, which is punishable by 3-12 months in jail and/or a fine ranging from $500-$5,000.

Between two ounces and five pounds to a minor (15-18)

This offense is a class 4 felony, which is punishable by 2-6 years in prison and/or a fine ranging from $2,000-$500,000. 10

More than five pounds to a minor (15-18)

This offense is class 3 felony, which is punishable by 4-12 years in prison and/or a fine ranging from $3,0000-$750,000. 11

Any amount to anyone under 15 years old

This offense is a class 3 felony. Its punishment is described above. 12

4. Unlawful processing, manufacturing or cultivation of marijuana

A person must have a license to manufacture or process marijuana in the state of Colorado. If a person does not have a license and is found to be be doing these activities, he or she can face serious repercussions.

In Colorado, it is unlawful for a person to possess with the intent to or knowingly, process or manufacture any marijuana or marijuana concentrate on unauthorized land. This means, if you don’t have a license to process or manufacture the drug, you can be convicted of a drug offense.

Also, cultivating more than six marijuana plants at a time for personal use is illegal. Those who cultivate six or fewer plants for purposes other than personal use can be convicted of a class one misdemeanor.

4.1. Unlawful processing, manufacturing and cultivation penalties

Any person who violates the manufacturing and processing laws commits a Level 3 Drug Felony. This offense is punishable by 4-12 years in prison and a fine ranging from $3,000-$750,000.

You can be subject to a drug conviction under Colorado law if you cultivate:

Between 7 and 29 plants

This offense is a Class Five Felony, which is punishable by 1-3 years in prison, and a fine ranging from $1,000-$100,000. 13

30 plants or more

This offense is a Class Four Felony, which is punishable by 2-6 years in prison, and a fine ranging from $2,000-$500,000. 14

5. Defenses for Colorado Marijuana Charges

Any defenses that may be appropriate in a particular case will depend on the facts and circumstances of that case. Some potential defenses that could be used in a marijuana drug offense case include, but are not limited to:

  • The drugs were discovered in an illegal search and seizure
  • There is no evidence you are guilty of the charges you are facing
  • You were entrapped
  • You have a valid prescription and instruction from your physician verifying the amount you were arrested with
  • There were no scales, pipes or any other equipment found during the search
  • You had a lawful quantity of marijuana on you during the arrest

Call us for help…

If you or someone you know is facing charges as a result of the violation of laws on marijuana, we encourage you to contact our Colorado drug lawyers for a free consultation.

We are dedicated to helping those who may have been unaware of the changing, and sometimes confusing, marijuana laws in Colorado keep a drug offense off of their record. We are well-versed in all that comes along with drug cases, which includes an understanding of how these cases are investigated by law enforcement and the district attorney.

In order to reach one of our skilled Colorado defense lawyers, fill out a confidential form or contact us by phone.

Denver Home Office:

4047 Tejon Street
Denver CO 80211

Legal References
  1. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(1)
  2. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(4)(a)(I)
  3. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(4)(b)(I)
  4. Same.
  5. Same.
  6. Same.
  7. Co. Rev. Stat. § 18-18-406(1)
  8. Co. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-18-406(3)(a)(I)
  9. Co. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-18-406(3)(a)(II)
  10. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(7)(a)
  11. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(7)(b)
  12. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(7)(c)
  13. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(7.5)(b)
  14. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(6)

Colorado Criminal Laws A to Z Blog Posts:

Updated September 5, 2020 Playlist: Colorado marijuana lawsWatch this playlist on YouTube Marijuana is a drug that is legal in the state of Colorado. However, the quantity one can possess, along with the sale and cultivation of the drug is heavily regulated. To help you further understand crimes in relation to marijuana, this article will .

Updated September 5, 2020 Playlist: Colorado marijuana lawsWatch this playlist on YouTube Marijuana is a drug that is legal in the state of Colorado. However, the quantity one can possess, along with the sale and cultivation of the drug is heavily regulated. To help you further understand crimes in relation to marijuana, this article will .

Updated September 5, 2020 Playlist: Colorado marijuana lawsWatch this playlist on YouTube Marijuana is a drug that is legal in the state of Colorado. However, the quantity one can possess, along with the sale and cultivation of the drug is heavily regulated. To help you further understand crimes in relation to marijuana, this article will .

Updated September 5, 2020 Playlist: Colorado marijuana lawsWatch this playlist on YouTube Marijuana is a drug that is legal in the state of Colorado. However, the quantity one can possess, along with the sale and cultivation of the drug is heavily regulated. To help you further understand crimes in relation to marijuana, this article will .

Despite the fact that it is legal for recreational use, there are numerous regulations governing the possession and sale of marijuana in Colorado.

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.

Possession

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.

Consumption

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.