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 driver’s license or passport would be sufficient enough. Note that you don’t need to be a Colorado resident to possess cannabis and there isn’t any type of registration system.
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.
This law has some grey areas, such as what is a ‘single transaction’, so most recreational stores err on the side of caution and will only serve you once a day.
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 1st, 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 bud tenders 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.
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 time-frame. For example, Denver stores must close by 7pm. If you’re looking to purchase marijuana in Denver after 7pm, 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.
“Where can I smoke my weed?”
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 like you might find in Amsterdam.
There are very few legal places that allow on-site consumption, unlike what you might find in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, the prohibitionists had their way with this one. Although not banned outright, the Colorado legislature dealt a large blow to the opening of cannabis clubs by stating that they’re not exempt from indoor clean air regulations, unlike cigar clubs. The exception to this rule are some new ‘private’ cannabis clubs where you can buy a day membership to consume. These clubs are relatively new, but many are not at the caliber that they should be. Some allow indoor smoking since they are ‘private’, others just allow inside vaping and outside smoking.
If you can’t visit a smoking lounge, all is not lost. Most consumers in Colorado are pretty considerate in terms of keeping things low key. Avoid smoking near other people such as busy sidewalks and bus stops, and it is unlikely that you will attract attention.
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 discrete, 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.
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 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 “open container” law in Colorado makes it illegal to possess marijuana in the passenger area of a vehicle if it is in an open container, a container with broken seals, or if there is evidence of consumption.
Simply put, don’t do it. The Feds are watching Colorado closely and although it is tempting to bring some of our finest product back to your home state, doing so has the potential to give the DEA and Feds even more reason to crack down.
In the states bordering Colorado, the police are extremely angry that we have such relaxed marijuana laws and as a result, they are profiling people and performing questionable (and sometimes illegal) searches of vehicles.
Mailing marijuana home is also a bad idea. Be smart or you and the receiver could face major fines and jail time.
Please be aware that your right to possess marijuana in Colorado does not apply when you are visiting national parks, national forests, monuments, or other federal properties such as courthouses. Also, be aware that many ski areas are located on federal land (mainly just the actual ski runs, not the towns or base of the mountain).
Possession of marijuana on federal land is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000 on the first offense, along with a 15-day mandatory sentence that can be extended to two years in prison for a second offense. After that, perpetrators can receive a 90-day to three-year prison term, and a $5,000 fine.
The law allows residents to cultivate up to 6 plants, 3 of which can be in the flowering stage in an enclosed, locked space.