Colorado Marijuana Limitations

What Happens if I am Under 21 and Caught Carrying or Using Cannabis?

People often ask, "how much cannabis can I legally have?" Per SB14-129, anyone under 21 years caught using cannabis or carrying 1 ounce or less of marijuana in Colorado commits illegal underage consumption and possession. Such violations of the law are unclassified petty offenses. Usually, an underage offender gets a maximum fine of $100 and a court-ordered substance abuse program for a first offense. For a second offense, the court will, in addition to ordering the offender to complete a substance abuse program, mandate them to complete a substance abuse assessment if deemed necessary and appropriate. They will also ask them to perform 24 hours community service. A third and subsequent offense comes with a substance abuse program with any treatment as determined by the assessment, up to 36 hours of community service, and a fine up to $250.

Where is it Legal to Smoke Weed in Colorado?

Despite the legalizing medical and recreational marijuana in Colorado, there are restrictions on how and where anyone can smoke weed in the state. Many Coloradans ask, "where can I use cannabis?" Generally, it is legal to smoke weed in private places, provided the user is at least 21 years old and purchased it legally. A perfect example of such is the user's residence. Colorado prohibits smoking weed in open locations or spots easily accessible to the public even if the user is above the legal smoking age and bought legally. Examples of places constituting public areas include eateries, parks, bars, banks, sporting events, and concerts. Smoking marijuana in public transport or on federal properties in Colorado is also illegal.

While it is illegal to smoke weed in open places around hotels, hotel rooms are considered private, and anyone can use cannabis there without fear of arrest. However, a user must verify if the hotel permits smoking weed in their rooms or if they have a designated smoking facility. Another question that comes to mind is, "can I carry cannabis around with me?" Coloradans can legally transport cannabis within the state in their cars, provided it is stored in a sealed container. Despite being legal to carry cannabis in a vehicle, it is illegal to smoke it in the car. In Colorado, anyone caught smoking weed in public faces a $100 citation.

Can I Leave Colorado with Cannabis?

No. Under federal law, it is illegal to leave Colorado to other states with cannabis, even if it is purchased legally and marijuana is legal in the destination state. Section 812 of Title 21 in the U.S. Code labels marijuana as a controlled substance, and federal law prohibits transporting such substances across state lines. Also, driving out of Colorado with cannabis edibles violates most state laws and is forbidden under federal law. Coloradans who leave Colorado with cannabis to other states do not take the protection of Colorado laws with them.

When a person goes through a Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is common with airports, carrying marijuana of any kind is illegal. It is unlawful because such a place is federally controlled and federal law prohibits carrying or using cannabis on federal government properties. However, the TSA allows cannabis-infused products and some cannabidiol (CBD) oil with no more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis or those approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Since the security officers of the TSA are meant to detect potential security threats to aviation, they usually hand cases of illegal marijuana possession discovered during routine security screening over to law enforcement. The Controlled Substance Act (CSA) stipulates that a person who deliberately possesses cannabis in any amount for personal use shall be liable to the United States for a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation. Hence, leaving Colorado with cannabis puts anyone who attempts it at the risk of this fine and other penalties as decided by the destination state.

Since flying with medical marijuana is a federal offense, Coloradans traveling to some states that allow medical cannabis reciprocity need not risk carrying weed to their destinations. Such medical patients (with medical marijuana cards) can enjoy similar privileges that they benefit from in their home state in states that permit cannabis reciprocity. However, they may have to apply for a new marijuana card which is valid only in the destination state. U.S. states practicing medical cannabis reciprocity include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota. Others are Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

Will Cannabis Affect My Driving Record in Colorado?

Yes, but only if there is a conviction for a DUI of marijuana. DUI of cannabis is a grave offense under Colorado law. Similarly, state law prohibits the public consumption of weed, including while operating a motor vehicle. In Colorado, DUIs carry massive court costs, heavy fines, loss of license, and sometimes jail time. Colorado marijuana DUI law stipulates that charges for driving under the influence of THC are misdemeanors. Usually, people with marijuana DUI cases that end in conviction (first-time convictions) face the following penalties:

  • A 9-month driver's license suspension
  • 12 points against license
  • Up to one year jail time
  • Court fines of between $600 to $1,000
  • Likely court-ordered probation
  • Between 48 hours and 96 hours of community service

All these go on a person's driving record and criminal record. Having a Colorado marijuana DUI on one's criminal record has weighty repercussions, including job loss, income loss, and negative impacts on personal relationships and reputations. In Colorado, a DUI is 12 points against a person's license, which is enough to suspend the license of any driver of any age. A person can also lose their license in Colorado if they have too many points on their record. The Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues driver's licenses in Colorado and is empowered to suspend the same on account of traffic laws violation, including DUI of cannabis.

Can I Get a DUI if I Drive While I am High?

Yes. It is a crime to drive under the influence (DUI) of marijuana in Colorado if the drug has impaired a driver's ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Per 42-4-1301, C.R.S, a DUI of marijuana is, in most instances, a misdemeanor. Colorado law forbids driving under the influence of any drug, legal or otherwise, even if a person is taking medical cannabis under a physician's prescription. Typically, in any prosecution for a DUI of any drug, the government must show that the drug indeed impacted a person's ability to drive. However, Colorado makes an exception for marijuana. The state enacted a presumption that if a DUI chemical test shows that a driver has a blood concentration of 5 nanograms of THC or higher per milliliter, a jury could presume that the driver is under the influence of marijuana. This value of THC in the blood is inconclusive unless the prosecutor can prove a driver guilty of DUI marijuana with the following evidence:

  • The driver was swerving in and out of the appropriate lane
  • The driver drove too slow or moved at unreasonable high speed
  • The arresting officer smelled marijuana in the motor vehicle
  • The driver violated Colorado traffic laws
  • The arresting officer found marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia in the vehicle
  • The driver appeared stoned (slurred speech and red eyes)

In Colorado, someone convicted of a DUI of marijuana faces the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol. Colorado has no separate code section for driving under the influence of marijuana or driving while ability impaired (DWAI) by marijuana. Colorado's penalties for DUI and DWAI become sterner with each successive conviction, as seen below:

First DUI

  • Five days to one-year jail
  • Between $600 to $1,000 fine
  • 48 to 96 hours of public service
  • Nine months license suspension
  • 12 DMV points
  • Possibly drug education classes
  • Up to two years probation

Second DUI

  • Ten days to one-year jail
  • Between $600 to $1,500 fine
  • Between 48 to 120 hours of public service
  • one year license revocation
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) for two years
  • 12 DMV points
  • Drug education classes
  • At least two years probation

Third DUI and subsequent ones attract the same penalties for a second DUI except that offenders are liable to 60 consecutive days to one year in jail and a 2-year license suspension.

First DWAI

  • Two days to one year jail
  • Between $200 to $500 fine
  • Between 24 to 48 hours of community service
  • One year license suspension
  • 8 DMV points
  • Up to two years probation

Second DWAI

  • Ten days to one year jail;
  • Between $600 to $1,500 fine
  • Between 48 to 120 hours of community service
  • One year license suspension
  • 8 DMV points
  • At least two years probation

For a third DWAI, offenders face similar penalties as the second DWAI, except that they will also get a 2-year license suspension and 60 consecutive days to one year in jail.

Under the Colorado Express Consent Law, anyone who drives in Colorado is subject to taking a chemical test if legally arrested for a DUI of marijuana or DWAI by marijuana. Refusing a Colorado DUI chemical test has severe consequences. However, this is not the same as the roadside breath test conducted by law enforcement officers after a traffic stop. If an officer has reasons to believe a driver was using marijuana, they will also take a blood test. Anyone who refuses a chemical test after an arrest for suspected DUI of marijuana may lose their license. In Colorado, law enforcement officers examine possible DUI of marijuana by focusing their attention on anything they can see as they stand outside arrestees' vehicles. These include the driver's lack of coordination, green film on the driver's tongue, redness of eyes, and slurred speech. An officer may charge a driver for a DUI of marijuana or DWAI by marijuana once they see any of these signs.

Can I Buy Marijuana in Colorado?

Anyone 21 years and older can buy marijuana in Colorado. The state does not require a medical reason to purchase cannabis because both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana are legal. However, a buyer should be familiar with the main varieties of marijuana to help them know what to buy. These include marijuana flowers, cannabis concentrates (wax, oil, resin, rosin, shatter), and marijuana edibles. Eligible buyers must have valid government IDs and will need to show them before making purchases. Coloradans 18 years and older can obtain medical marijuana cards to enable them to buy medical marijuana.

Since Amendment 64 makes no separate legal classification regarding the rights of Colorado residents against out-of-state visitors, tourists can equally make marijuana purchases in the state. They must, however, present valid government-issued IDs. As of June 2021, eligible residents can only purchase up to 1 ounce of marijuana flower, up to 8 grams of concentrates, and up to 800mg of edibles, all in a single trip. Out-of-state visitors can only buy ¼ ounce. Although keeping track of purchase totals may be difficult for persons buying a mix of varieties, budtenders usually help buyers to stay within the limit for a single purchase. Many marijuana dispensaries are careful not to serve customers more than one time per day.

Where Can I Buy Marijuana in Colorado?

Eligible persons can buy marijuana from state-licensed marijuana dispensaries in Colorado. They must, however, visit these stores with their valid government-issued IDs to be able to purchase recreational marijuana. The Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) issues licenses to marijuana businesses and oversees compliance by licensed marijuana dispensaries. Some stores have licenses to operate as both recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries. Medical patients are required to show their medical marijuana cards when visiting licensed dispensaries to buy medical cannabis.

Colorado state law specifies the operating hours of marijuana dispensaries in the state. Licensed marijuana stores are permitted to open from 8:00 a.m. to midnight. However, local jurisdiction can further limit these operating hours but must fall within the time frame advised by the state. For instance, the City of Denver mandates its marijuana dispensaries to close by 10:00 p.m. daily. The location of marijuana dispensaries is subject to approval at the county, city, and town levels.

A legitimate marijuana dispensary must have locks and a security alarm system on all windows and entry points. Continuous monitoring of a marijuana dispensary is also required, while all video surveillance equipment and footage must be safely kept and stored. Licensed marijuana dispensaries in Colorado must package their products in a sealed, non-transparent container at every point of sales. The MED provides a directory of licensed marijuana stores in Colorado for Coloradans seeking answers to the question, "where can I find cannabis?"

How Much is Marijuana in Colorado?

Prices of marijuana in Colorado vary by season, type, city, and many other factors. The Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) periodically uses data from growers to manufacturers or dispensaries to determine the Average Market Rate (AMR). By the time cannabis gets to the consumer, the price per pound is more than the AMR.

Per Colorado marijuana laws, there are limits on recreational and medical marijuana purchases. Hence, consumers can only buy in ounces or grams. The average cost per ounce for recreational consumers is between $160 to $240. Consumers pay between $5.76 and $8.64 per gram for recreational marijuana.

How Much Cannabis Can I Legally Have?

In Colorado, adults 21 years and older, by the new legislation (HB21-1090) signed by Governor Jared Polis in May 2021, can now legally possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower and concentrates. However, this does not affect how much cannabis they can purchase in a single trip from licensed marijuana dispensaries. In Colorado, medical patients and their caregivers may possess more than the legal amount if recommended by their physicians. However, they must be able to prove beyond doubt that the extra quantity they have is needed.

Where Is Weed Legal?

State Legal Status Medicinal Recreational
Alabama Criminalized No No
Alaska Decriminalized Yes Yes
Arizona Decriminalized Yes Yes
Arkansas Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Colorado Decriminalized Yes Yes
Connecticut Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Delaware Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
District of Columbia Decriminalized Yes Yes
Florida Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Georgia Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Hawaii Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Idaho Decriminalized No No
Illinois Decriminalized Yes Yes
Indiana Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Iowa Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Kansas Decriminalized No No
Kentucky Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Louisiana Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Maine Decriminalized Yes Yes
Maryland Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Massachusetts Decriminalized Yes Yes
Michigan Decriminalized Yes Yes
Minnesota Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Mississippi Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Missouri Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Montana Decriminalized Yes Yes
Nebraska Decriminalized No Yes
Nevada Decriminalized Yes Yes
New Hampshire Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
New Jersey Decriminalized Yes Yes
New Mexico Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
New York Decriminalized Yes Yes
North Carolina Decriminalized No Yes
North Dakota Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Ohio Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Oklahoma Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Oregon Decriminalized Yes Yes
Pennsylvania Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Rhode Island Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
South Carolina Decriminalized No No
South Dakota Decriminalized Yes Yes
Tennessee Decriminalized No No
Texas Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Utah Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Vermont Decriminalized Yes Yes
Virginia Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil Yes
Washington Decriminalized Yes Yes
West Virginia Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Wisconsin Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Wyoming Decriminalized No No
In this section:
Colorado Marijuana Limitations