Colorado marijuana laws explained

colorado marijuana law
Guests dining at Planet Bluegrass, an outdoor venue in Lyons, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)


What are Colorado marijuana law? Noted cannabis attorney Hilary Bricken explains the terrain.

1. What is personal consumer marijuana law in Colorado?

In November 2012, passage of Amendment 64 made Colorado the first state to legalize the use and possession of limited amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and older. Adults 21 and older in Colorado may transfer or gift to each other up to an ounce of marijuana for no compensation, or they can access state-licensed retailers to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana flower or up to eight grams of concentrate or up to 800 mg of edibles. “Private cultivation” of up to three immature and three mature marijuana plants is legal for Coloradans 21 and older in “a closed and locked space,” including your home.

Colorado also has medical marijuana laws and regulations under which qualified patients 18 years and older can obtain a medical marijuana card from their physician to purchase marijuana from a medical marijuana dispensary. Medical marijuana patients are currently permitted to cultivate up to 99 plants with a doctor’s recommendation.

2. Can any adult go into a store?

Any person of any nationality or any state citizenship 21 and older can visit any state-licensed marijuana retailer in Colorado and purchase up to an ounce of marijuana in a single transaction. Tourists in Colorado previously could only purchase up 7 grams of marijuana, but that law changed in June 2016.

3. Do I need a medical marijuana card?

Only if you’re trying to purchase medical marijuana from a state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary, which requires an official physician’s recommendation. Everyone else 21 and older just needs to produce some form of recognized ID showing their age and name (i.e., driver’s license or passport) to purchase marijuana from a state licensed marijuana retailer. Medical marijuana access is restricted to Colorado residents and Colorado has no reciprocity rules to allow out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to secure their medical cannabis in Colorado.

4. Can I take any Colorado cannabis home with me out of state?

The answer is no. Transporting marijuana over state lines is a serious crime under the federal controlled substances act because marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. So, restrain yourself accordingly.

5. Where can I smoke cannabis in Colorado?

Colorado’s recreational laws do not permit consuming cannabis “openly and publicly,” and Colorado’s Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits marijuana smoking in any location where cigarette smoking is banned. Though Colorado has toyed with the idea of cannabis clubs, concerns over federal interference if the state were to allow Amsterdam-style coffee shops has so far meant no state legislation has passed to allow for or to regulate such clubs — though around 30 “social marijuana clubs” do exist by virtue of local government permission.

[Hilary Bricken is an attorney at Harris Bricken in its Los Angeles office and she chairs the firm’s Canna Law Group. Hilary is also lead editor of the Canna Law Blog.]