Colorado Marijuana Possession Laws

Is Possession of Marijuana Legal in Colorado?

In Colorado, possession of marijuana is legal for recreational and medical purposes. Colorado passed Amendment 64 in 2012 to legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults aged 21 and above. The law permits adults to possess up to 56.7 grams (2 ounces) of marijuana for personal use. However, it is unlawful to use marijuana in public, and property owners can ban the consumption of weed on their premises.

Furthermore, the Colorado Medical Marijuana program, established by Amendment 21 in 2000, allowed medical marijuana registry patients and caregivers to possess up to 56.7 grams (2 ounces) of marijuana and up to 8 grams of marijuana concentrates. They can also possess up to six marijuana plants, including not more than three mature plants. The law defines medical marijuana patients as persons with certain qualifying, debilitating medical conditions that have been registered on the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry. The medical marijuana registry is maintained by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

How Much Weed Is a Felony in Colorado?

Possession of weed for personal use is legal in Colorado, provided it is not more than 56 grams (2 ounces). However, a person in possession of weed can face felony charges depending on the following factors and considerations:

  • Age: An adult aged 21 or above found in possession of more than 2 ounces (56 grams) of marijuana will be charged with marijuana possession which is a drug misdemeanor. Subsequent indictments may result in felony charges.
  • Location: The use of marijuana in public places, especially federal lands, can result in felony charges, regardless of the amount consumed. An open marijuana container in a vehicle is also treated as a marijuana possession offense. Felony charges may result if there is damage to property or life.
  • Amount in possession: The law limits individuals to a maximum of 56 grams (2 ounces) of marijuana per time. Persons found with more than 56 grams (2 ounces) of marijuana may be charged and penalized depending on the amount of marijuana on them.
  • It is a felony for an adult to give, share, transfer, or sell marijuana to a minor. It is a class four felony to give between 2 ounces (56 grams) and 5 pounds (2.27 kg) of marijuana to minors between 15 and 18 years. The penalty is 2 to 6 years imprisonment or a fine ranging from $2,000 to $500,000.
  • Giving marijuana above 5 pounds (2.27 kg) to a minor aged between 15 and 18 years or giving any amount of marijuana to a minor under 15 years is a class three felony. It attracts 4 to 12 years imprisonment or a fine ranging from $3,000 to $750,000.

What Are the Penalties for 1st Time Offense of Possession of Weed in Colorado?

In Colorado, first-time marijuana possession offenders aged 21 years and above are charged with drug misdemeanors.

  • If the weed found with them is above 6 ounces (170 grams) or 3 ounces (85 grams) of marijuana concentrates, they will be charged with level one drug misdemeanors. Level one drug misdemeanor is punishable by 6 to 18 months of incarceration or fines between $500 and $5,000.
  • If the marijuana is between 3 ounces (85 grams) and 6 ounces(170 grams), they will be charged with level 2 drug misdemeanors. This offense is punishable by 3 to 12 months of jail time, a year of probation, or a $250 to $1,000 fine.
  • A first-time marijuana possession offender under 21 years will be charged with a minor-in-possession charge. A first-time MIP conviction is punishable with a $100 fine, a surcharge of $25, and a drug education class. First-time minor-in-possession conviction records are automatically sealed in Colorado.

Colorado passed HB 19-1263 in 2020 to downgrade the severity of marijuana possession from drug felony to drug misdemeanor. Possession of marijuana can only be charged as a drug misdemeanor with different sentencing options and limited incarceration regardless of the quantity. Per HB 19-1263, marijuana possession penalties are lesser than other drug possession penalties.

Where to Buy Legal Weed in Colorado

Adults aged 21 years and above can purchase weed from licensed dispensaries (stores) in Colorado. Medical marijuana registry cardholders can buy marijuana from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries within the allowed limit.

The Colorado Department of Revenue registers medical and retail marijuana stores and maintains a list of licensed stores. Persons intending to purchase weed must present their identification cards indicating their ages before they are allowed to buy marijuana products. Interested persons can also purchase marijuana from online stores and deliver it to their homes.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy Weed in Colorado

You must be 21 years old or older to buy weed in Colorado. Amendment 61 prohibits minors from purchasing, possessing, or consuming weed in the state. Dispensaries are prohibited from selling weed to persons under the age of 21 years. Anyone that sells or gives an underage person marijuana can be charged with a felony.

Medical marijuana patients under 21 years can purchase marijuana from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries provided they present valid and current Colorado medical marijuana registry cards. Minor medical marijuana patients must consume marijuana under the supervision of their parents or caregivers.

How Much Weed Can You Carry in Colorado?

Per Amendment 64, persons aged 21 years and above can possess 2 ounces (56 grams) of marijuana per time. Likewise, Amendment 21 permits medical marijuana patients of whatever age to possess 2 ounces (56 grams) of marijuana per time.

Medical marijuana registry patients and their caregivers must have a current and valid Colorado medical marijuana registry card when in possession of marijuana in public. They may possess more than the legal limits if it is medically necessary and prescribed by a medical doctor. However, the burden to prove the medical necessity lies with the suspect if law enforcement agents catch them with marijuana quantities more than the legal limit.

What Happens if You Get Caught With Weed Under 18 in Colorado?

Amendment 64 defines a minor in Colorado as a person under 21 years. Therefore, a person under 18 years found with weed can face a minor-in-possession charge. Also, a minor possessing marijuana paraphernalia like bongs or pipes can be charged with a minor-in-possession charge. However, in this case, a MIP charge will only apply if the minor knows or should reasonably know that the marijuana paraphernalia can be used to consume marijuana.

Minors found in possession of marijuana may be penalized with fines, public services, and interventions. Fines range from $100 to $250. They may also be denied financial aid for college tuition payments because marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance with a tendency for abuse and is illegal at the federal level.

How Many Marijuana Plants Can You Have in Colorado?

Six plants. Amendment 64 permits residents aged 21 and above to grow up to six marijuana plants per person with not more than three mature and flowering plants per time for personal use.

  • Households with more than two adults aged 21 and above cannot grow more than 12 marijuana plants. Furthermore, marijuana plant areas must be separate, enclosed, and locked to prevent access to minors. In addition, the marijuana plants must not be visible to the public.
  • To this end, local authorities often impose further limitations on marijuana home cultivation within their jurisdictions. Note that it is illegal to sell home-grown marijuana or exchange the product for service or value.
  • Per Amendment 21, medical marijuana registry cardholders are also limited to six marijuana plants per person and a maximum of 12 marijuana plants per household.
  • Cardholders can grow up to 24 marijuana plants in a household if the municipality does not limit the number of marijuana grown in a house. But growing this number of plants requires obtaining prior permission from the local authority.

How Much Weed Can You Fly With from Colorado?

Marijuana is illegal at the federal level. Hence, traveling with weed to other states is illegal. Weed is prohibited in all airports in Colorado. Carrying any amount of weed at an airport may result in criminal charges.

Is It Illegal to Be High in Public in Colorado?

No, it is not illegal to be high in public in Colorado. However:

  • It is unlawful to consume marijuana in public. It is also illegal to get high before driving as you might be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).
  • Drivers with 5 nanograms of Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter of whole blood in their system can be prosecuted for DUI.
  • Even when marijuana is used for medical purposes, you can still be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). As it will be difficult to measure how much weed you have taken, state authorities recommend staying away from marijuana for at least 6 hours before driving.
  • It is illegal to have a marijuana container open in a car while driving. Neither drivers nor passengers can open any marijuana packaging even if the vehicle is stationary.
  • You can still be charged with a traffic offense if some marijuana products have been consumed from a marijuana package and there is evidence that it was consumed in the vehicle.
In this section:
Colorado Marijuana Possession Laws