Colorado

Is Weed Legal In Colorado?

Yes. Both recreational and medical marijuana are legal in the state of Colorado. 

Legislation History

The Colorado Marijuana Legalization Amendment, also known as Amendment 64, was approved by voters on Nov. 6, 2012, passing with 55.3% of the vote. Amendment 64 legalized recreational cannabis for adults 21 and older, and established sales and cultivation taxes. Before approval of Amendment 64, the possession or use of cannabis was reserved for qualifying patients and their caregivers.

 

Medical cannabis has been legal in the Centennial State since 2000, when voters approved Initiative 20. It passed with 53.5% of the vote. Initiative 20 permitted medical marijuana and created an identification card system for patients and their caregivers.

Overview

Colorado marijuana laws and Colorado’s adult-use marijuana industry are regulated by the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR). The CDOR also provides regulatory oversight and licensing for medical marijuana production, distribution, testing, and sales.

 

The Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry is regulated by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

How Old Do I Need
to Be to Consume?
21+
Recreational
18+
Medical
Possession Limit
for Flower
1oz
Recreational
2oz
Medical
Possession Limit
for Concentrates
8g
Recreational
56g
Medical

Where is it Safe to Purchase?

Adults 21 and older and medical marijuana patients may purchase legal marijuana from any state-licensed dispensary. If patients are unable to make the transaction themselves, they may also designate a caregiver to purchase and deliver medical marijuana on their behalf. Patients may purchase from exclusively medical marijuana dispensaries.

 

The state sales tax in Colorado is 2.9%, which applies to the sale of medical marijuana and medical marijuana products. Retail marijuana and marijuana-infused products are exempt from this sales tax — however, they are subject to a 15% retail marijuana tax, which is added to the final retail purchase price.

 

While you can currently purchase marijuana only in a dispensary, the Colorado General Assembly passed HB 1234 in the 2019 legislative session allows  cannabis delivery in Colorado, beginning Jan. 2, 2020 for medical marijuana; and for all adult-use marijuana beginning Jan. 2, 2021. Travelers cannot, however, bring marijuana to Denver International Airport or any other airport.

Where is it Safe to Consume?

Until recently, Colorado marijuana laws prohibited public consumption of cannabis; cannabis consumption was reserved for private, personal use in locations not open or accessible to the public. However, in 2019, the state passed HB 1230, which creates new business licenses for marijuana lounges, tasting rooms, and other cannabis-based hospitality businesses where consumers can bring and consume marijuana and marijuana-infused products.

 

It is illegal to use or consume cannabis in a motor vehicle, and it is illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis.

Colorado Recreational Marijuana Laws Possession

While recreational and medical marijuana in Colorado is legal, there are still legal limits to how much one may possess. 

 

Adults 21 and older may possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana or cannabis-infused products, or 28.35 grams, and 8 grams of concentrates. 

 

Adults may also gift up to 1 oz, or 28.35 grams, of usable cannabis to another adult 21.

Colorado Medical Marijuana Laws: Possession

Qualifying patients and their caregivers may legally possess up to 2 oz., or 57 grams, of usable cannabis. 

Colorado Marijuana Growing Laws

Under the current Colorado marijuana laws, adults, qualifying patients and their caregivers may each grow or possess a maximum of six marijuana plants, with three plants in the flowering stage, and a total of 12 plants on a residential property.

 

According to state law, caregivers must provide the location of each cannabis cultivation site and the registration number of each patient they serve. If any patient qualifies for more plants, those plants and their corresponding patient registry numbers must be registered with the CDOR. The specific laws regarding cultivation and patient plant counts vary by city and county. However, parent caregivers cultivating fewer than 36 plants are not required to register with the Caregivers Registry.

 

Only homebound patients and minors may designate a transporting caregiver. When registering, transporting caregivers must provide the registry personal identification number (PIN) of each homebound patient, the total number of plants and quantities that the caregiver is authorized to transport. Additionally, transporting caregivers must also provide location of each patient’s registered medical marijuana center or caregiver cultivation site, if applicable.

Medical Marijuana Registry

The Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry is a statewide program that allows patients with qualifying medical conditions to receive a registry ID card for legal access to medical marijuana. Registry ID cards are available to Colorado residents only, and must be renewed yearly — and, for patients, this includes an updated physician’s certificate.

 

The Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry established a state-authorized ID card, along with an online database used to track and verify qualified patients and their designated caregivers. Patients and caregivers must each apply for a card for a registry card.  Minors must apply with a parent or legal guardian and must submit two physician’s certificates.

Qualifying Conditions

  • Any condition for which a physician could prescribe an opioid
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe pain

Application Process

  1. Obtain a physician’s recommendation.
  2. Submit a valid Colorado driver’s license or ID to establish residency.
  3. Designate a caregiver and submit a valid caregiver’s registration ID, if applicable.
  4. Designate cultivation status.
  5. Pay a $25 Medical Marijuana Registry Identification Card fee.

Caregiving

Caregivers are required to register annually with the CDOR Caregivers Registry to transport or grow cannabis on behalf of a patient. Caregivers must be at least 18 years old and be a permanent resident of Colorado. Caregivers can follow one of these four designations:

  • Cultivating: grows marijuana on behalf of patients.
  • Transporting: transports marijuana for homebound or minor patients.
  • Parents of a minor patient: Parents or legal guardians of a patient younger than 18.
  • Advising: Advises patients on the medicinal use of marijuana.

Only caregivers who are cultivating and transporting cannabis are required to register with the CDOR Caregivers Registry; advising caregivers and parents of a minor patient do not need to register.

Reciprocity

Colorado allows any adult with a government-issued ID to purchase cannabis from a recreational dispensary if they are 21 or older. However, there are some dispensaries in Colorado that are for medical marijuana patients only. Colorado does not offer reciprocity. Out-of-state patients cannot purchase from medical marijuana dispensaries and will have to make their purchases as recreational customers.

Lab Testing

The CDOR requires that all cannabis harvested for adult use must be tested to meet certain quality and safety control standards. After the lab has completed an internal self-audit and corrected all compliance issues, the facility must submit the Request for Inspection form signed and dated by the laboratory director. The facility may only perform tests in the categories for which they have been certified. In total, there are six lab certification types that may be obtained in the course of a CDOR facility inspection:

  • Potency testing
  • Microbial (bacteria and fungi)
  • Residual solvents
  • Metals
  • Pesticides
  • Mycotoxins (toxins produced by mold)

Licensing

The CDOR offers online applications for retail marijuana establishments. Business owners and investors may need to submit additional applications. Medical marijuana licenses also go through the CDOR, even though the patient registry is maintained by the CDPHE.

 

As of 2019, HB 1090 qualifies licensed cannabis companies in Colorado to become publicly traded corporations. 

 

This page was last updated on Sept. 13, 2019.