Colorado is the first state to legalize medical and recreational marijuana in 2012. However, even though it’s legal, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can do whatever you want with marijuana. First, it’s only legal on a state level, so there are certain areas throughout Colorado where you are unable to buy marijuana or use marijuana. In addition, just because marijuana is legal and dispensaries are allowed, that doesn’t mean that everything in the cannabis industry is legalized. In today’s blog, we’ll be diving into the marijuana laws in Colorado, especially in light of the current situation with Sweet Leaf, which we’ll touch on below. If you are facing drug charges, then take the time to contact a criminal lawyer at Roselle & Breitigam, P.C. One of the focus areas we offer is drug charges.
BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO MARIJUANA LAWS IN COLORADO
To help you stay out of a legal matter when it comes to marijuana, we’ve compiled some Colorado laws you should be aware of it you indulge in cannabis. Keep in mind that just like alcohol, even though it’s legal, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything you do with it is on the right side of the law. For example, you should never ever drive while high on marijuana, just like with alcohol you can face a DWAI or a DUI. Even though you’re not able to tell if you’re high while you drive, there are still signs that you can tell if you’re driving while intoxicated. In addition, you’re not able to be in possession of marijuana if you’re underage or you purchase more than it legal. Below, you’ll find brief descriptions of some of the Colorado marijuana laws that you should be aware of if you indulge in recreational or even medical.
The first law we’ll be going over is possession. If you use marijuana recreationally, then you have to be over the age of 21. 21, just like alcohol, is the legal age for you to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in the State of Colorado. The way that the Colorado amendment is worded says that you can possess one ounce of THC, which can vary in form depending on how you use it. For example, THC can be in pill, edible, flower, beverage, or a concentrated form. You can hold up to an ounce of THC in any of these forms according to the amendment. In addition, according to the amendment, it’s your constitutional right to consume and possess marijuana in the State of Colorado.
In the State of Colorado, you’re unable to consume alcohol when walking down the street. The same goes for smoking marijuana or using it in any form. If you are on the street and you engage in using cannabis, then you could get a ticket. Keep in mind that “discretion is appreciated, and usually required.” To ensure that you don’t get arrested or a ticket, it’s best that you don’t openly and publicly smoke marijuana. While other places where marijuana is legal to have places where you can smoke, in Colorado, it’s still illegal to smoke anywhere but the privacy of your home.
As we’ll explore below with a current situation that’s going on in one of the most popular dispensaries around Denver, there’s a purchasing limit to marijuana. The tourists who come to Colorado are only allowed to purchase seven grams or less at one time. In addition, a resident of Colorado is only allowed to have 28 grams or one ounce purchased at one time. While there are grey areas for the purchase limit, it’s best to be as educated as possible in what you can have one you at one time. In October of last year, they changed the laws to figure out how much a recreational dispensary can sell to one person. As of October of last year, it was decided that one ounce of the flower is equal to eight grams of concentrate, which is wax or shatter and it’s also equal to 800 mg of edibles.
In short, you can purchase and possess marijuana as long as you follow the limits and are of age. According to the Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-18-406, this offense relates to marijuana and marijuana concentrates. The Colorado Revised Statutes Section 12-43.4.-301 relates to the licensing requirements for marijuana establishments. For the Colorado State Constitution Article XVIII, Section 16 relates to the personal use and the regulation of marijuana.
For personal possession, if you are in possession of one to two ounces, then you can have a fine of up to $100. For open and public displays of marijuana for two or fewer ounces, then you could be looking at 24 hours of community service and $100 fines. For possessing more than 12 ounces, it’s a Level 4 Drug Felony that has a penalty of one year in jail and $100,000 fines.
When it comes to the sale, if you sell under four ounces, then it’s a Level 1 Drug Misdemeanor that’s punishable for up to 18 months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. This will increase to selling 2.5 pounds to a minor that can end you up in jail for a Level 1 Drug Felony that’s punishable for up to 32 years in jail and $1 million in fines.
Lastly, for cultivation, if you’re caught with six plants or fewer, then you’ll have a Level 1 Drug Misdemeanor that is punishable for up to 18 months in jail and at least $5,000 in fines. For six to 30 plants, you can spend a year in jail and pay $1000,000 fines with a Level 4 Drug Felony. If you have over 30 plants, then you’ll spend four years in jail and pay up to $5000,000 in fines for a Level 3 Drug Felony.
In addition, there are still cases where a dispensary or a person can get in trouble for marijuana. For example, recently, in the Denver Post, it was reported that Sweet Leaf, a well-known dispensary in Colorado, was raided due to a practice known as looping. Looping is when a dispensary sells unlawful amounts of marijuana to customers. The raid was completed on December 14, 2017, and continues to be investigated to this day. So far, there have been 13 arrests made with at least eight dispensaries around the Denver area under investigation. It’s been revealed that undercover officers had been keeping tabs on the dispensary during a year-long investigation in the locations because the discrepancies of marijuana that were being sold were incorrect and the workers were selling more than the legal limit.
For more information on marijuana laws and what you can and can’t do in the State of Colorado, reach out to our criminal lawyer for any questions you may have.