In November 2012, Colorado voters approved Colorado Amendment 64, which allowed the use of recreational marijuana in the state. Under the amendment, marijuana is regulated much like alcohol.
More than two years later, on January 1, 2014, licensed recreational marijuana vendors were finally allowed to open their doors to the public.
Since then, marijuana has become a budding industry. In just the first 24 hours of being open, Colorado’s retail marijuana stores had $1 million in sales, according to an Inc.com article covering the industry.
Proponents of legalizing recreational marijuana use have seen Colorado’s experiment as a success so far. Brian Vicente, one of Amendment 64’s authors, said in a recent New York Times article, “Every major institution said this would be horrible and lead to violence and blood in the streets. None of that’s happened. The sky did not fall.”
The Times reports that crime in Denver, where the majority of recreational marijuana shops reside, is down 10 percent. However, it’s uncertain whether the legalization of pot had anything to do with the decline.
Still, just because recreational marijuana is legal and widely available does not mean that it is a free-for-all.
Lawmakers and officials are still hashing out many of the laws and regulations covering marijuana. (For example, there is a case working its way through the courts about whether a business should be permitted to fire an employee who uses medical marijuana.)
If you are already a habitual user—or are interested in trying marijuana—you should know not only your company’s policies but also the laws governing marijuana use, sale, and distribution in the state, outlined below.
Recreational marijuana is available to be sold only to people 21 and over. It is illegal to sell or give retail marijuana to minors. Residents of Colorado who are 21 and up can purchase up to 1 ounce at a time. Non-residents of Colorado can only purchase ¼ ounce.
Possession of amounts greater than one ounce can come with penalties ranging from minor to very serious. It is only a petty offense to have 1 to 2 ounces of marijuana. If you have more than 12 ounces, however, it becomes a felony punishable by over a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
It is also against the law to take marijuana across state lines.
Marijuana cannot be smoked or eaten (if it is in edible form) in public. This includes in marijuana stores. It can only be consumed in a private residence.
Consuming marijuana (of less than 2 ounces) in a public space is illegal. It is considered a petty offense punishable by up to 15 days incarceration and a $100 fine.
Being under the influence of marijuana while driving is also against the law. You can be arrested for a DUI if you are pulled over and found to have more than five nanograms of THC in your blood.
Only licensed stores are allowed to sell recreational marijuana. If you are arrested for selling marijuana, it is a felony—whether you sold less than 5 pounds or more than 100 pounds. The punishment ranges between 1 and 12 years in prison, depending on the amount sold.
Cultivation of 6 plants or fewer is legal if the plants are at a private residence. If you grow between 6 and 30 plants, it is a felony with penalties of 2 to 6 years incarceration and a $500,000 fine.
If you are ever arrested and charged with a marijuana-related crime, you should know that you don’t have to go through it alone. Call an experienced Denver marijuana lawyer at our firm to get the guidance you need.