Colorado was the first U.S. state to legalize cannabis and, in many regards, the pioneers for the legalization movement. Still, there are rules concerning cannabis within the Centennial State.
Throughout this article, we’re going to review everything you need to know about cannabis laws and regulations within Colorado.
Anyone 21 years of age or older are allowed to legally possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis within Colorado. Anyone with a state-issued medical marijuana card are allowed up to 2 ounces.
Technically, the law is written so you’re allowed to possess 1 ounce of any THC product. For example, you can hold up to half an ounce of flower and half an ounce of concentrates.
However, this law was changed on October 1st, 2016. The new rules consider how certain cannabis products relate to flower and are as follows:
- 8 grams of concentrate (shatter, wax, etc) is equal to 1oz of flower
- 800mg of edibles is equal to 1oz of flower
In order to obtain cannabis in Colorado, you must go to a state-licensed marijuana dispensary and show you have a government-issued identification proving you are either at least 21 years of age or hold a medical marijuana card.
As mentioned, all Colorado residents are allowed to have up to 1 ounce of cannabis on them at a time. If you are a tourist, you are restricted to the purchasing limit of 7 grams.
If you’re a medical patient, you can purchase up to 2 ounces at a time. However, more cannabis can be granted if recommended by the patient’s physician.
While no cannabis dispensary will sell you more than these limits, you can receive a fine along with jail time if you have more than the respective amount of cannabis on you.
Like other states, it is illegal to consume cannabis openly and in public spaces in Colorado. All consumption must take place on private property.
If you’re a tourist with nowhere to smoke in Colorado, a number of private cannabis clubs and bring-your-own-cannabis lounges have been appearing across the state. These allow you to consume cannabis and socialize with other connoisseurs in a safe and legal manner.
If you are caught consuming cannabis in public, you run this risk of receiving a ticket and fines (similar to open carry alcohol charges).
Driving Under the Influence
Colorado is one of the few states that have a legal THC limit for operating a motor vehicle. This limit is 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood. Unfortunately, this legal limit has come into question as people metabolize THC at different rates.
With all this said, you shouldn’t consume cannabis and drive. If a police officer believes you’re stoned, you’ll be required to take a blood test. If you refuse to take the test, this can result in penalties similar to refusing a breathalyzer test (i.e. as a license suspension).
Furthermore, if you are caught driving under the influence of cannabis, you’ll be charged similarly to that of an alcohol DUI.
When you have cannabis with you in a vehicle or on a private transportation line, you must make sure it is not in an open container as this immediately makes it illegal. Even if you’re just the passenger of a vehicle, all cannabis must remain in a closed container.
It is illegal to export any cannabis purchased in Colorado out of state. If you are caught doing so, this allows both federal and the state’s law enforcement to get involved.
Exportation includes driving out of state boundaries with cannabis or mailing it to another state.
These laws remain true even when you’re entering another state where cannabis is legal (i.e. Colorado to Nevada).
Colorado residents 21 years of age or older are allowed to cultivate up to 6 cannabis plants, 3 of which can be in the flowering stage. These plants must be kept in an enclosed and locked space.
Medical marijuana patients are allowed to grow an additional 6 plants (totaling 12) or more if a physician recommends it.
Medical Marijuana Card
If you struggle with a qualifying condition, you may be able to apply for a Colorado state-issued medical marijuana card. The following are the qualifying conditions:
- An Autism Spectrum Disorder
- HIV or AIDS
- Persistent muscle spasms
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Severe nausea
- Severe pain
It’s worth noting that any condition for which a physician can prescribe you opioids also qualifies.
In order to apply for a medical marijuana card, you must be 18 years of age. Minors are also allowed to apply with permission from a parent.* However, all minors must see two providers and submit two provider certifications.
In order to apply for a medical marijuana card, you must receive a recommendation from a physician. After filling out the application, it will take 1 to 3 days to be approved.
*Parent must be a Colorado resident.