For marijuana users and enthusiasts, April 20th (4/20, 4:20 or 420) is not just any ordinary day; it’s THE day! Here in Colorado, this local “holiday” has morphed into a weeklong party. Celebrating everything cannabis, thousands of people will be pouring into Colorado from across the country to take advantage of our legalized recreational marijuana.
As you walk through downtown Denver this week there’s a good chance you’ll be able to smell, and maybe even see, the festivities all around you. But just because recreational marijuana is legal that doesn’t mean every marijuana-related activity is allowed in our state. Similar to the rules and regulations regarding alcohol consumption, certain cannabis behaviors still carry severe criminal penalties or fines. Below are a few tips to help keep you safe during the 4/20 weekend:
Tips to Stay Safe on 420 in Colorado
#1: It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or use marijuana
If you’re over the age of 21 with a valid state or federal ID you can legally purchase and consume marijuana. While out-of-state visitors can only purchase one-quarter ounce of marijuana at a time, Colorado residents are allowed to buy up to one ounce per transaction. Due to complex federal banking regulations, however, most dispensaries do not accept credit or debit cards so be prepared to bring cash.
#2: Know when and where it’s appropriate to use cannabis
The police and private businesses do not make exceptions to the laws just because it’s 4/20. It is ALWAYS illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, or any other drug. Also remember that even though you may see a smoky haze wafting through the Mile High City, smoking in public is illegal. This also means no smoking in public parks or campgrounds either.
If you’re caught using marijuana in public be prepared to pay a hefty fine. According to the Denver Post, there were 196 marijuana related citations and arrests during last year’s 4/20 holiday weekend.
Resist the temptation to partake in the 4/20 “tradition” and only smoke inside the comfort of your home or marijuana-friendly properties. For out-of-town visitors be sure to ask about a hotel’s policy before lighting up in your room or on a private balcony or patio. Even if you are in a place that allows it, it doesn’t mean they endorse or encourage it. Be respectful of other guests and those around you, and always use discretion.
#3: Keep it in Colorado
Unless you are itching to see the inside of a federal prison, you should never take any weed out of Colorado across state lines. Because marijuana possession is still against federal law, a first time violation can carries a fine and a possible prison sentence. This also applies visitor flying in and out of the Denver International Airport. Be sure to check your luggage and get rid of any leftover cannabis before you check into the airport for your flight home.
#4: Know your limits
Take it easy. Especially if you’re just in town visiting for the holiday weekend, 4/20 will come again next year. Although there’s never been a true marijuana overdose you don’t want to ruin your day by ingesting everything at once. Because Colorado seemingly has more dispensaries than Starbucks, McDonald’s and 7-Elevens combined, “running out” of marijuana is not likely.
If you are trying marijuana for the first time, start off slowly. For marijuana smokers, remember that every strain of marijuana is unique and they vary in potency. If you prefer to eat or drink cannabis infused products know that edibles tend to have a delayed effect and can sometimes take up to an hour before kicking in.
Make your 420 day in Denver and Colorado safe and fun.