Colorado Marijuana Laws

Dispensaries opened their doors in 2014 to residents 21 and older, making Colorado the first in the world to legalize marijuana sales. Adults and patients can purchase products from licensed dispensaries located throughout the state. Colorado is also home to lounges, marijuana tasting rooms, and other consumption locations. Personal possession of up to 1 ounce and 8 grams of concentrates is permitted under law.

Colorado marijuana laws
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Cannabis use is legal for any purpose in Colorado. This means simple possession, home cultivation, commercial farms, and retail sale of marijuana are legal. Unlicensed sale and processing remain illegal, and possession of a significant amount of cannabis can draw criminal charges.

Possession

Colorado marijuana laws allow adults to possess up to 1 ounce for recreational use. Adults over 21 may also legally transfer up to an ounce to another person as long as nothing else of value changes hands.

  • Less than 1 oz: Possession of no more than 1 ounce is legal in Colorado.
  • 1 – 2 oz: Possession of between 1 and 2 ounces is a petty offense, similar to a speeding ticket, and comes with a maximum fine of $100.
  • 2 – 6 oz: Possession of between 2 and 6 ounces is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and $700 in fines.
  • 6 – 12 oz: Possession of six to 12 ounces is also a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and $5,000 in fines.
  • More than 12 oz: Possession of more than 12 ounces, meanwhile, is a felony punished by between 1 and 2 years of imprisonment, plus a potential $100,000 fine.

Public consumption is also against the law, though it’s treated only as a petty offense. Jail time is unlikely in most cases but a fine of $100 is possible.

Possession with Intent to Distribute

Possession of 8 or more ounces of marijuana is presumptively treated as possession with intent to distribute. This isn’t charged as a separate crime but rather is used as grounds for imposing a more stringent sentence on the underlying possession charge.

 

Offense Penalty Incarceration Max. Fine
Personal Use
1 oz or less* No Penalty None $ 0
Transfer of 1 oz or less for no remuneration* No Penalty None $ 0
1 – 2 oz Petty Offense None $ 100
Open and public displays or uses of 2 oz or less Petty Offense None $ 100
2 – 6 oz Misdemeanor 0 – 12 months $ 700
6 – 12 oz Misdemeanor 6 – 18 months $ 5,000
More than 12 oz Felony 1 – 2 years $ 100,000
* By persons 21 years of age or older.
With Intent to Distribute
Possession of 8 oz or more is considered possession with the intent to distribute will enhance the sentence.

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Sale or Distribution

Sale or distribution of cannabis without a legal license is a misdemeanor when the amount is 4 ounces or less, punishable by between 6 and 18 months in jail and $5,000 in fines. It is a felony when the weight is any more than 4 ounces.

  • 4 oz or less. Sale or distribution of less than 4 oz is a misdemeanor punishable by between 6 and 18 months imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • 4 oz – 12 oz. Sale or distribution of up to 12 ounces is a felony punishable by a minimum of 6 months in jail, a maximum of 2 years in prison, and up to $100,000 in fines.
  • 12 oz – 5 lbs. For amounts of up to 5 pounds, the jail term is between 2 and 6 years, and the top fine is $500,000.
  • 5 lbs – 50 lbs. For weights between 5 and 50 pounds, the prison term is between 4 and 16 years and a fine of $750,000 is possible.
  • More than 50 lbs. And finally, for sale or distribution of more than 50 pounds, the penalty is between 8 and 32 years in prison, and up to $1 million in fines.

To a minor

  • Less than 1 oz. Sale or distribution of up to 1 ounce of marijuana to a minor, when the distributor is an adult at least 2 years older than the minor, is a felony punishable by between 6 months and 2 years in jail and a maximum fine of $100,000.
  • 1 – 6 oz. When the amount is between 1 and 6 ounces, the jail term is between 2 and 6 years, and a fine of between $2,000 and $500,000 is payable.
  • 6 oz – 2.5 lbs. For offenses involving amounts up to 2.5 pounds, the prison term is between 4 and 16 years, and the top fine is $750,000.
  • More than 2.5 lbs. And finally, when the amount sold to a minor exceeds 2.5 pounds, the penalty is a minimum of 8 years in prison, a maximum of 32, and a fine of between $5,000 and $1 million.
Offense Penalty Incarceration Max. Fine
4 oz or less Misdemeanor 6 – 18 months $ 5,000
4 oz – 12 oz Felony 6 months – 2 years $ 100,000
12 oz – 5 lbs Felony 2 – 6 years $ 500,000
5 lbs – 50 lbs Felony 4 – 16 years $ 750,000
More than 50 lbs Felony 8 – 32 years $ 1,000,000
Sale to a minor has a greater penalty. See details for information.

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Cultivation

Cultivation of cannabis for recreational purposes is legal for adults in Colorado.

Up to 6 plants. Marijuana law in Colorado allows residents to grow as many as 6 marijuana plants at home for personal use. No more than 3 of the plants may be mature at any given time.

6 – 30 plants. Cultivation of between 6 and 30 plants is a felony with a sentence of between 6 months and 2 years in prison, plus a maximum fine of $100,000.

More than 30 plants. When more than 30 plants are involved, the sentence is between 2 and 6 years in prison and the maximum fine is $500,000.

Offense Penalty Incarceration Max. Fine
6 plants or fewer* No Penalty None $ 0
6 – 30 plants Felony 6 months – 2 years $ 100,000
More than 30 plants Felony 2 – 6 years $ 500,000
* By persons 21 years of age or older.

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Hash and Concentrates

Possession

Less than 2 oz. Colorado marijuana laws allow possession of up to 2 ounces of hashish or concentrated marijuana.

1 – 3 oz. Possession of between 1 and 3 ounces is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a maximum $5,000 fine.

More than 3 oz. Possession of more than 3 ounces is a felony with a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Distribution

Less than 2 oz. Distribution, transfer, or possession with intent to distribute is a misdemeanor when the amount is no more than 2 ounces, and it comes with between 6 and 18 months jail time and up to $5,000 in fines.

2 – 6 oz. It is a felony when the amount involved is any greater than 2 ounces. Distribution, transfer, or possession with intent to distribute more than 2 but less than 6 ounces is punishable by a minimum of 6 months in jail, a maximum of 2 years, and up to $100,000 in fines.

6 oz – 2.5 lbs. When the amount is between 6 ounces and 2.5 pounds, the penalty is between 2 and 6 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

2.5 – 25 lbs. When the quantity is between 2.5 and 25 pounds, the minimum prison term is 4 years, the maximum is 16 years, and the max fine is $750,000.

More than 25 lbs. And finally, for offenses involving amounts greater than 25 pounds, the jail term is between 8 and 32 years, and the top fine is $1 million.

Sale or distribution to a minor comes with greater penalties.

Offense Penalty Incarceration Max. Fine
Possession      
2 oz or less* No Penalty None $ 0
2 – 3 oz Misdemeanor 6 – 18 months $ 5,000
More than 3 oz Felony 6 months – 2 years $ 100,000
Distribute, Transfer, or Possess with Intent      
2 oz or less Misdemeanor 6 – 18 months $ 5,000
2 oz – 6 oz Felony 6 months – 2 years $ 100,000
6 oz – 2.5 lbs Felony 2 – 6 years $ 500,000
2.5 lbs – 25 lbs Felony 4 – 16 years $ 750,000
More than 25 lbs Felony 8 – 32 years $ 1,000,000
* By persons 21 years of age or older.      
Sale, Transfer or Dispense to a minor has a greater penalty. See details for information.      

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Paraphernalia

Paraphernalia possession is treated as a petty, non-criminal offense if the possessor knows that the paraphernalia could be used in violation of Colorado cannabis laws. However, Colorado 18-18-428 C.R.S. specifically excludes “marijuana accessories” from the definition of drug paraphernalia. Adults are permitted to use paraphernalia to legally cultivate up to 6 marijuana plants, or to possess and use up to an ounce for personal, private use.

Paraphernalia includes any items used in the cultivation, harvesting, processing, storing, testing, and consumption of marijuana.

The maximum penalty is a fine of $100, and the law is only lightly enforced.

Offense Penalty Incarceration Max. Fine
Possession of marijuana paraphernalia No penalty N/A N/A

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Medical Marijuana

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Colorado medical marijuana laws have been in place since 54% of voters approved a 2000 ballot initiative to allow medicinal use of the drug. Ballot Amendment 20 removed state-level criminal penalties for patients who use, possess and cultivate marijuana with written certification from a physician confirming that he or she suffers from a debilitating medical condition and advising they “might benefit from the medical use of marijuana.”

QUALIFYING CONDITIONS:

  • Any “condition for which a physician could prescribe an opioid”
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic nervous system disorders
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Nausea
  • Persistent Muscle Spasms
  • Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
  • Seizures

PATIENT POSSESSION LIMITS:
Two ounces of usable marijuana

HOME CULTIVATION:
Yes. Patients or their primary caregivers are permitted to cultivate a maximum of six marijuana plants, with no more than three mature at any one time.

STATE-LICENSED DISPENSARIES:
Yes

CAREGIVERS:
Yes. Caregivers must be aged 18 years or older and a patient can only have one caregiver at a time. A patient who has registered a dedicated caregiver for himself or herself may not be listed as a caregiver for another patient. A caregiver may not be listed on the medical marijuana registry for any more than 5 patients.

RECIPROCITY:
No

Marijuana Attorney Directory

Colorado Marijuana Attorneys

The following Colorado lawyers are actively involved in the practice of cannabis law: