CO Marijuana Laws: What You Should Know

Colorado has led the nation in the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. Since 2012, marijuana has been legal in the state for those over 21 years of age to enjoy responsibly. Even though a decade has passed since legalization, it’s still not uncommon to run into Coloradans who aren’t sure what is and isn’t legal.

It’s vital to understand the rules and regulations regarding marijuana in the state to help keep yourself out of trouble with the law. Make no mistake: While Colorado may have legalized the plant, you can still run into legal trouble for breaking the clear rules set out by which you must abide.

Here is what you need to know about marijuana laws in Colorado to help keep you safe and legal.

Colorado’s Marijuana Laws

In the state of Colorado, it is legal for adults over the age of 21 to use medical and recreational marijuana. However, there are limitations on those who wish to purchase marijuana in the state, both for those who are residents and those who are not.

First and foremost, you have to be over the age of 21 to buy and use marijuana in the state. You can only buy from a retail marijuana dispensary for recreational marijuana – and from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries if you are purchasing with a medical marijuana card.

You can only possess one ounce of marijuana at once. If you are caught in the state with more than one ounce, then you face criminal charges based on the amount in your possession:

Petty Drug Offense

This is charged if you have between one and two ounces of marijuana in your possession at one time. It is punishable by fines of up to $100.

Level 2 Drug Misdemeanor

This level of crime is charged if you have between two and six ounces of marijuana in your possession. It can result in jail time of up to one year and fines of as much as $1,000.

Level 1 Drug Misdemeanor

If you have in your possession more than six ounces of marijuana or more than three ounces of concentrates, then you can face this level of drug misdemeanor. It can result in a jail sentence of up to 18 months and fines of as much as $5,000.

For those visiting from out of the state who wish to purchase marijuana, one ounce of marijuana can be purchased from a licensed dispensary.

Where Can You Consume Marijuana in Colorado?

While it may be legal to buy marijuana in the state, it’s not legal to use it just anywhere. Vaping, eating, or smoking marijuana in public is illegal in Colorado, and any person who is publicly doing so can be charged with a petty drug offense.

It is illegal to consume cannabis in these places in the state:

  • Concert venues
  • Federal land
  • Amusement parks and parks
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Retail establishments
  • Hotels
  • Common areas of apartment complexes or condominiums
  • Sidewalks
  • Ski resorts

Where Can You Consume Marijuana in Colorado?

It’s in your best interest to consume the legal marijuana you purchase on your own private property so that you do not face any criminal charges. Remember, even a petty offense will go on a permanent criminal record, and that can impact your future in significant ways.

If you are facing drug charges, even petty offenses, in Colorado, then you need an experienced attorney to guide you.


About the Author:

Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020, and is Lead Counsel rated.