Cannabis in Colorado
Colorado Cannabis Laws
Is Weed Legal in Colorado?
Yes! On November 7, 2000, Colorado became one of the first states in the country to legalize the medical use of marijuana. The passage of Amendment 20 enabled the legal sale of marijuana to any citizen with a medical need. Almost 12 years later on November 6, 2012, Colorado voters passed Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana in the state. In a groundbreaking victory for marijuana enthusiasts, Colorado and Washington became the first states in the nation to legalize cannabis for adult-use. At the start of 2014, commercial sale of marijuana began across the state, with numerous retail locations and delivery services providing marijuana products to legal aged adults. Today, both medical and recreational cannabis industries are flourishing across the state.
Understanding the complex marijuana laws in Colorado can be tricky at first but educating yourself before your first purchase can ensure that your Colorado cannabis experience is 100% legal.
Buying Marijuana in Colorado
When Proposition 64 first passed in the state, tourists and non-residents were limited to 7 grams of marijuana per day. In June of 2016, this law changed and tourists and residents alike can now buy up to 28 grams at any retail location. A person wishing to purchase recreational marijuana in the state must be 21 or older with a valid, government-issued form of identification. Residents between the ages of 18-21 can purchase medical marijuana with a valid physician’s recommendation and ID.
Buying Marijuana at a Retail Location
In Colorado, about 175 of the state’s 272 municipalities have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana. Finding a licensed retailer that meets your needs is easier than ever, with marijuana search directories now just a click away. Remember that a government-issued ID is required for any person hoping to enter a marijuana retailer, and you must be 21 or older to purchase recreational marijuana.
Using a Marijuana Delivery Service in Colorado
Similar to your favorite pizza joint, marijuana will soon be legally available for delivery right to your doorstep. The recent passage of HB 19- 1234 in the Colorado legislature legalized the delivery of marijuana in the state. Expect to see medical delivery services beginning in 2020 and recreational marijuana delivery services in 2021.
The state allows stores to operate within the hours of 8 AM-12 AM (MST) but every municipality has its own regulations. Keeping up with dispensary hours in Colorado can be tricky, so make sure you check online before making the drive.
Colorado dispensary closing times by city:
- Denver: 10 pm
- Glendale: 12 am
- Edgewater: 12 am
- Aurora: 10 pm
- Boulder: 10 pm
- Fort Collins: 8 pm
While the laws regarding purchasing limits remain the same for medical marijuana, they have recently changed for recreational users. Customers may still buy up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of flower from a licensed retailer, but can no longer buy the same amount of concentrates or edibles. In 2016, the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) determined that concentrates and edibles are not equivalent to flower in THC levels and therefore must be treated differently when sold. The MED has released ‘Marijuana Equivalency’ standards that set guidelines for the purchasing limits on concentrates and edibles.
The conversions are as follows:
- 28 grams of marijuana flower = 800 mg of edibles
- 28 grams of marijuana flower = 8 grams of concentrates
Customers are still able to buy a variety of products at one time but the combined total is limited to 1 ounce. For example, you can buy 4 grams of concentrates and ½ ounce of marijuana at one time. While this new system is somewhat confusing, most budtenders will help guide you through the purchasing process. Finding a helpful, informative dispensary is a great way to ensure you are staying safe and legal while purchasing marijuana in Colorado. Medical patients in Colorado are still able to purchase up to 2 ounces of marijuana products at any licensed medical marijuana location.
With a vast array of available products sold in dispensaries in Colorado, it may be a little overwhelming at first. From some of the finest flower in the US to THC-infused body lotions, there is something for everyone in Colorado. Denver has some of the most innovative products in the nation at unbeatable prices, so check out the menu before visiting a dispensary to best prepare yourself.
Marijuana Taxes in Colorado
Recreational Marijuana Taxes in Colorado
Recreational Marijuana in Colorado is subject to a wide variety of state and local taxes. As of 2017, marijuana is now exempt from the 2.9% state sales tax. Instead, marijuana is now subject to a 15% retail sales tax, as well as a 15% state retail marijuana excise tax.
Medical Marijuana Taxes in Colorado
Although a medical marijuana card is no longer needed to purchase legal weed in the state, it may save you some money on taxes. While medical marijuana is still subject to the 2.9% state sales tax, it is exempt from both the 15% retail sales tax and the 15% state retail marijuana excise tax.
Adults 21 and over (residents or non-residents) can possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana flower at one time. Those possessing concentrates cannot have more than 8 grams at one time. You can possess a combination of flower, concentrates and edibles but the combined total cannot add up to more than 1 ounce.
Consuming Marijuana in Colorado
While it is legal to buy and possess marijuana in Colorado, it is not legal to consume the products in a public space. Knowing the legal areas to use the marijuana products you purchased is a major aspect of staying safe in Colorado.
Areas that DO allow the consumption of marijuana:
- Within your private residence (as long as it is not forbidden in your lease)
- Outside a private residence (backyard), as long as it is out of the view of the public.
- A Licensed marijuana consumption facility
- In your ‘smoker-friendly’ hotel room
Areas that DO NOT allow the use of marijuana:
- In your car
- At a local park
- At a concert venue (Red Rocks Amphitheatre)
- Any location where tobacco consumption is prohibited
- Federal lands (RMNP, national forests)
- On a school campus
- Any public place
With the passage of I-300 in 2016, ancillary businesses in Denver, like yoga studios and bookstores, can apply for a ‘marijuana consumption’ onsite. Because only a few businesses have been approved since 2017 due to a lengthy and difficult application process, a new bill called HB 19-1230 was introduced and subsequently passed in May 2019.
This extremely positive movement forward makes Colorado the first state in the US to create a structure for cannabis social consumption spaces. Specifically, HB 19-1230 creates more regulations and allowances surrounding consumption in “marijuana hospitality establishments.”
Marijuana on Federal Land
While cannabis products have been legalized in a few states across the US, they are still currently federally illegal. For this reason, carrying or using any marijuana product on federal land is a crime. If your visit to Colorado includes a trip to the majestic Rocky Mountain National Park or otherwise, think twice and leave the weed at the hotel.
Medical Marijuana in Colorado
In November of 2000, a majority of Colorado voters supported Amendment 20, which legalized the use of marijuana for citizens of the state with written medical recommendations. While a medical marijuana card is no longer required to purchase legal marijuana products in Colorado, it may be a good idea to renew your card or obtain one if you qualify. Medical marijuana patients remain exempt from the steep state retail and excise taxes imposed on recreational marijuana. Rather than the 25% tax recreational users will pay, medical users are subject only to the 2.9% state sales tax. Many dispensaries also offer reduced prices for a medical patient. The small fee you pay to renew your card will likely pay for itself after a few dispensary visits.
Out of State Medical Cards
While some states in the US will honor a medical card from out of state, Colorado, unfortunately, does not. Recreational marijuana will still be available to any adult 21 or older.
How to Transport Marijuana in Colorado
Transporting Marijuana in Colorado
Any adult 21 or older may drive with up to 1 ounce of marijuana products at one time. The product must be in a sealed container, out of reach of the driver (this includes the glove compartment). Any open container of marijuana must be stored in the trunk of the vehicle at all times. If your car does not have an enclosed trunk space, Colorado law allows marijuana to be stored behind the last seat of the vehicle. No person(s), either driver or passenger, is legally allowed to smoke in any motor vehicle in Colorado.
Driving While Under the Influence of Marijuana
Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of any marijuana product is highly illegal in Colorado and is punishable with a DUI charge. Even with a medical prescription for marijuana use, a person can be arrested for driving under the influence. Similar to alcohol, there are legal limits for the amount of THC a person can have in their system while operating a motor vehicle.
The limits are:
- “By law, drivers with 5 nanograms of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter of whole blood can be prosecuted for DUI.“
However, despite any legal limit, a police officer can arrest you based on their perception of impairments. For this reason, we highly recommend you abstain from driving while under the influence of any THC product. Making use of the city’s great public transportation is a smart and eco-friendly way to stay safe while visiting the Mile High City.
Driving Across State Lines with Marijuana
If you got a little overzealous and bought more weed than you can smoke during your trip to Colorado, can you take it home with you? Unfortunately, the states bordering Colorado are not happy about Coloradans’ lax approach to marijuana laws. As such, police officers on the other side of state lines are waiting to search and seize any Colorado green you decide to bring with you. If you are flying, Denver International Airport prohibits the use, transport or possession of marijuana on the premises, however, TSA has made it clear that they’re focused on much larger issues. Regardless, it’s always better to be safe than sorry so we recommend you don’t try to take any cannabis products home with you, no matter how tempting it may be.
Growing Marijuana in Colorado
If you prefer home-grown marijuana to store-bought weed, you may legally grow up to 6 plants at a time in your home. However, no more than 3 plants are legally allowed to be flowering at the same time. As of 2018, each household is capped at a maximum of 12 plants, meaning that even if you have 3 roommates you cannot have more than 12 plants. Every municipality has different laws regarding home-grow operations, so check online for the rules and restrictions specific to your area. Deciding on going the home-grown route comes with its own set of rules and complications and learning to grow safely and eco-consciously is a process that should not be taken lightly.