Colorado “Minor in Possession” of Alcohol or Marijuana
(Colorado 18-13-122 C.R.S.)

child with bottle of vodka

Colorado's “minor in possession” law -- 18-13-122, C.R.S.

Colorado 18-13-122, C.R.S. makes it a Colorado petty offense for most people under 21 to possess or consume:

  • Ethyl alcohol,1
  • Marijuana,2 or
  • Marijuana paraphernalia.3

Marijuana paraphernalia includes (but is not limited to):

  • Rolling papers,
  • Pipes,
  • Scales,
  • Bongs,
  • Roach clips,
  • Separation gins, sifters or screens for separating twigs from marijuana.4

Colorado minor in possession penalties

Consequences of violating Colorado's minor in possession law can include:

First offense

  • a fine of up to $100 (+ a $25 penalty surcharge), and/or
  • a state-approve substance abuse education program.

Second offense

  • a fine of up to $100 (+ a $25 penalty surcharge),
  • a substance abuse assessment,
  • a state-approved substance abuse education and treatment program, and
  • up to 24 hours of useful public service.

Third offense

  • a fine of up to $250 + a $25 penalty surcharge,
  • a substance abuse assessment,
  • a state-approved substance abuse education and treatment program, and
  • up to 36 hours of useful public service.

Minor in possession defenses

Even though it is a strict liability ("no excuses") law, there are numerous exceptions to Colorado's underage alcohol or marijuana possession law. Some of the more common defenses include (but are not limited to): 

  • You were legally entitled to use medical marijuana,5
  • You possessed or consumed the alcohol while you were legally on private property and you had the consent of your parent or legal guardian who was also present,
  • The alcohol came solely from candy or other sweets which contained a small amount of alcohol,
  • The alcohol was from medicine,
  • The alcohol was from something not intended for human consumption
  • You consumed an alcoholic beverage that contained less than one-half of one percent of ethyl alcohol by weight,
  • You are a student studying culinary arts, food service, or restaurant management at an accredited post-secondary institution and you taste (but do not swallow) an alcoholic beverage while under the direct supervision of an instructor who is at least 21;
  • You possessed or consumed alcohol for religious purposes protected by the first amendment to the United States constitution,
  • You were legally entitled to use medical marijuana, or
  • The scales (or other paraphernalia) was for a legitimate purpose.

In addition, you are immune from prosecution in the first place if you possessed the alcohol or marijuana solely because you were helping another minor who possessed alcohol and needed assistance as long as:

  • You called 911 and reported in good faith that another underage person was in need of medical assistance due to alcohol or marijuana consumption,
  • You gave your name to the 911 operator,
  • You were the first person to make the 911 report,
  • You remained on the scene with the underage person in need of medical assistance until assistance arrived, AND 
  • You cooperated with medical assistance or law enforcement personnel on the scene.6

Call us for help...

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If you or your child has been charged with violating 18-13-122, C.R.S., Colorado's "minor in possession" law, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. Our caring Colorado DUI and criminal defense lawyers defend underage clients on drug, alcohol and driving charges throughout the state.

For the quickest response, use the form on this page. Or call us at our Denver office:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202
(720) 955-6112

Legal references:

  1. 18-13-122(3)(a), C.R.S.
  2. 18-13-122(3)(b), C.R.S.
  3. 18-13-122(3)(c), C.R.S.
  4. 18-18-426, C.R.S.
  5. 18-18-406.3, C.R.S.
  6. See also 18-1-711, C.R.S.


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