Understanding Colorado’s marijuana laws

Colorado residents should understand exactly what is and what is not legally allowed since the legalization of marijuana.

Colorado is one of only two states to have legalized the use of marijuana for non-medicinal purposes and the laws that govern its use are still not always clearly understood by all. It is important to be knowledgeable about what is and what is not legally allowed in order to prevent inadvertent and unnecessary legal troubles, including criminal drug charges.

Laws pertaining to the consumption of marijuana

As outlined by the state of Colorado's website, only persons who are 21 years of age or older may legally possess or use marijuana. It is expressly illegal to supply marijuana to people younger than 21 or for people under 21 to possess or use it. At this time, only civil penalties, not criminal penalties, will be applied for the use or possession of marijuana by those under 21.

Consumption of marijuana cannot happen in openly public places. Unlike smoking cigarettes, people cannot walk down the streets smoking marijuana. Smoking pot is also governed under the state's Clean Indoor Air Act which restricts smoking in public buildings to designated areas. Hotels, for example, must maintain at least 75 percent of their rooms as smoke free.

Colorado residents are allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana while non-residents are limited to one-fourth of an ounce.

Laws pertaining to the growth and sale of marijuana

Until January of 2016, the only businesses allowed to obtain retail licenses for the sale of marijuana for non-medicinal purposes are those businesses previously licensed as marijuana businesses.

Home growth of marijuana is allowed as long as plants are kept in a secure and locked enclosure. This can be indoors or outdoors. Up to six plants per person may be grown with a maximum of 12 plants per household. Only persons 21 years of age or older are allowed access to the plants.

Laws pertaining to driving and marijuana

The Colorado Department of Transportation makes it clear that drugged driving is treated very much like drunk driving. Law enforcement officers are allowed to make arrests if they deem impairment by drivers simply by observation.

Blood tests can be requested and drivers who refuse to participate in blood testing will be subject to drivers' license revocation, substance abuse programming and use of an ignition interlock device for up to two years. These penalties can be incurred even if a criminal conviction is not achieved.

The legal limit for THC in the blood is 5 nanograms and driving with levels beyond that are illegal. This includes medicinal use of marijuana. Open container laws are in effect making any open bag or broken seal illegal in a vehicle. Use of marijuana on public roads is also illegal.

Legal help is critical

The laws governing marijuana use in Colorado are still evolving to some degree. People who face potential civil or criminal charges for alleged illegal use or possession of marijuana should contact an attorney for help.

Keywords: marijuana, legalization