With the passing of Amendment 64, adults 21 or older in Colorado can legally possess one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana or THC.
If you are an adult 21 years of age or older, you can now legally possess 1 ounce of marijuana in Colorado. The way the amendment is worded actually allows for possession of 1 ounce of THC. This is great news because in addition to flower (bud), you can also enjoy many types of concentrates, edibles, topicals, etc. during your visit. Cannabis seeds are also available for sale in Colorado.
As long as you are 21 years or older, you have a constitutional right to possess and consume marijuana in Colorado. You will need a government-issued identification to prove you are 21 years or older, so a drivers license or passport would be sufficient enough. Note that you don't need to be a Colorado resident to possess recreational cannabis and there isn't any type of registration system. Only residents who apply for medical marijuana cards need to register with the state.
Previously, tourists in Colorado were restricted to purchasing 7 grams or less, while Colorado residents could purchase up to 28 grams. This law changed in June 2016, and now both tourists and residents can purchase 28 grams in a single transaction.
This law has some grey areas, such as what is a ‘single transaction’, so most recreational stores err on the side of caution and will only serve you once a day.
As of October 1st, 2016 the laws have changed.
The Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) in Colorado performed studies to determine what the THC equivalent of concentrates and edibles are in relation to marijuana in flower form. They argue that since products such as concentrates have a much higher level of THC, then you shouldn’t be able to purchase the same amount of concentrates as you can flower. As a result, the MED has issued ‘Marijuana Equivalency’ guidelines.
As of October 1st, 2016 the following rules took effect in regards to recreational sales (medical sales remain unchanged):
- 1oz Flower = 8g of Concentrate (Shatter, Wax, etc)
- 1oz Flower = 800mg of Edibles
You can still mix and match, but it gets confusing. For example, you can purchase 2 grams of concentrate, but then you will be limited to buying an additional 3/4 oz of flower (as 2 grams of concentrate is now equivalent to 1/4oz of flower). These laws will be a big challenge for budtenders as they attempt to sell combinations of products while ensuring that the buyer is within the legal limits.
One important thing to note is these restrictions only apply to retail sales, not possession. You can legally possess up to 28 grams of concentrates or THC as defined in the Colorado Constitution.
Read more about Colorado's recreational cannabis equivalency laws here.
Currently, the state allows marijuana stores to operate from 8am until Midnight. Having said this, cities are allowed to establish their own rules within the allocated timeframe. For example, Denver stores must close by 10pm. If you're looking to purchase marijuana in Denver after 10pm, head to Edgewater and Glendale (two cities bordering Denver), which both allow stores to stay open until 12am. Another great option is Aurora, which allows stores to stay open until 10pm as well.
You can learn more about your privacy when visiting a recreational marijuana store in our blog.
So you made it to Colorado and bought yourself a big bag of green. Great job! Now the question is: "Where can I smoke my weed?" This is a highly debated topic at the moment, so here's some helpful insight into what's legal and what's practical.
First and foremost, you will find the following statement to be true during your visit:
Discretion is appreciated, and usually required.
Amendment 64 does NOT permit the consumption of marijuana "openly and publicly." So before you start blazing those blunts while walking down the street, remember that you can still get a ticket for doing so, similar to open container laws for drinking in public.
In general, there aren't any coffee shops or marijuana bars where you can purchase cannabis products like you might find in Amsterdam. However, thanks to Initiative 300, bring-your-own-cannabis lounges are beginning to open their doors to consumers.
In addition to the new social consumption lounges, several 'private' cannabis clubs are open to adults as well. These clubs are a great place for tourists and locals alike to come together and consume marijuana products safely and legally. Some even allow indoor smoking since they are 'private,' while others just allow inside vaping and outside smoking.
Remember, public consumption is illegal and can result in tickets and fines. Denver Police have also increased citations for public consumption over the years. In the first three quarters of 2014, Denver Police issued 668 public consumption citations. This amounts to a 470% increase from the same period in 2013, when 117 citations were issued. On 4/20 in 2018, police issued 72 citations, almost twice as many as the previous year.
Even though concert venues and bars are considered ‘private,' prohibitionists argue that they are ‘publicly accessible private venues', and therefore consumption of marijuana is prohibited. From our experience, it depends upon the place and the crowd. Most down to earth venues will usually turn a blind eye to things unless they are getting complaints or police visits.
To be discrete, edibles or a portable vaporizer can be your best friend. These have become very popular in Colorado, as they don’t really leave any odor and can be consumed almost anywhere.
Driving Under the Influence
A new DUI law is in effect in Colorado which sets a legal limit for the amount of active THC in your system while driving. The legal limit is 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood. This law was fiercely debated with the main issue being that people metabolize THC at different rates and as a result, the amount of impairment varies drastically from person to person. Unlike alcohol, where if you are over 0.08 you are impaired, it's hard to determine if a person is impaired or not based upon THC levels alone.
The bottom line is be smart and don't drive under the influence. If your car doesn't smell like you ran over a pack of skunks and your eyes aren't bloodshot, it is unlikely that you will be singled out. If the police do suspect you are driving stoned, they can require you take a blood test. Refusal to do so can result in similar penalties as refusing a breathalyzer test, such as loss of license.
The possibility of being involved in a serious car accident, even through no fault of your own, always exists, so it's best to sleep off the high. The law does allow for a defendant charged with driving under the influence of marijuana to introduce evidence that pot did not impair their ability to drive. This is a last ditch strategy, the best advice is to simply drive sober.
In 2014, 354 people received marijuana only DUIs in Colorado. If you find yourself in need of legal representation for a marijuana DUI, we recommend Jeff Gard from Gard & Bond.
The "open container" law in Colorado makes it illegal to possess marijuana in the passenger area of a vehicle if it is in an open container, a container with broken seals, or if there is evidence of consumption. But what constitutes as an open container of marijuana in a motor vehicle? If your buds are in a plastic bag, is that considered open container. We expand upon this topic and provide practical advice in our blog article, Driving with Marijuana in Colorado.
Simply put, don't do it. The Feds are watching Colorado closely and although it is tempting to bring some recreational cannabis back to your home state, doing so has the potential to give the DEA and law enforcement even more reason to crack down.
In the states bordering Colorado, the police are extremely angry that we have such relaxed marijuana laws and as a result, they are profiling people and performing questionable (and sometimes illegal) searches of vehicles.
Mailing marijuana home is also a bad idea. U.S. Postal Service inspectors seized 207 packages of marijuana being sent from Colorado through the mail in 2013. In 2014, 320 packages of marijuana were seized. Compare these numbers to 2010, when only 15 packages were intercepted. Be smart or you and the receiver could face major fines and jail time. (Read the prohibitionists report here - September 2015 - PDF)
Federal Land and Properties in Colorado
Please be aware that your right to possess marijuana in Colorado does not apply when you are visiting national parks, national forests, monuments, or other federal properties such as courthouses. Also be aware that many ski areas are located on federal land (mainly just the actual ski runs, not the towns or base of the mountain).
A recent review of federal court data by the AP showed that in 2013 through July, at least 135 people were cited for marijuana possession on federal land in Colorado. Although many of the federal park rangers are nice, we've met plenty that would like nothing more than to ruin your vacation -- the numbers above speak the truth. As always, make sure you take the necessary precautions.
Possession of marijuana on federal land is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000 on the first offense, along with a 15-day mandatory sentence that can be extended to two years in prison for a second offense. After that, perpetrators can receive a 90-day to three-year prison term, and a $5,000 fine.
The law allows residents 21 years of age or older to cultivate up to 6 plants, 3 of which can be in the flowering stage in an enclosed, locked space. For more information on seeds, growing indoor, outdoor or with clones, check out our blog for a wide variety of helpful content.