In November of 2012, Colorado blazed a trail that saw state residents approving a referendum legalizing the recreational use of marijuana without requiring a medical prescription. While complete legalization was a significant change from previous prescription only regulations that had been in place since 2000, marijuana laws still exist that, if violated, could result in serious legal problems. Commemorating the 10-year anniversary this fall may require a refresher regarding existing rules.
One of the law’s most well-known aspects is being 21 years old to purchase and partake – underage possession and use is a criminal offense. Personal use is limited to possession of one ounce for users who do not have a medical prescription. Purchases must occur at a licensed dispensary where purchasers must provide a driver’s license or other valid ID. While adults are allowed to grow marijuana – subject to local rule and regulations—and share it with friends for free, there are limits on the amount of plants per person and gifts of marijuana to other adults cannot be over two ounces.
Any marijuana legally grown or purchased must remain within Colorado. Mailing or crossing the border with any amount can result in an arrest.
Those who partake in marijuana use should also learn about local laws that govern where and when marijuana can be consumed. While marijuana is openly consumed in many places in Colorado, public use is technically prohibited in most areas and can still result in receiving a ticket. Some cities ban the smoking and vaping of marijuana in a non-fenced-in lawn, even when on private property. Private business, such as hotels and vacation rentals, often prohibit use and violation of these rules may result in a ban, fine, or being reported to law enforcement.
Federal land, including national parks, monuments, and hiking and biking trails, prohibits marijuana use. Even carrying it can lead to serious criminal charges.
Consuming outdoors in public places is also prohibited, particularly if members of the public have a first-hand view of it. The law covers concerts, sporting facilities, parks, streets, and common areas in buildings.
And, as billboards across the state will remind you, driving while high is a DUI. Impaired driving charges apply to impairment due to marijuana in the same way as impairment due to alcohol or any other drug. Police officers are specifically trained to recognize signs of marijuana impairment and state crime labs test blood from suspected DUI’s for D-9-THC levels to see if a person is over the presumptive limit – which is very similar to the “legal limit” for alcohol.
Knowledge is power, particularly when it comes to the state’s marijuana laws. Insight can also help avoid serious criminal charges.