Colorado Laws re Marijuana

Marijuana is a drug that is legal in the state of Colorado. However, the quantity one can possess, along with the sale and cultivation of the drug is heavily regulated.

To help you further understand crimes in relation to marijuana, this article will cover the following:

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Although it is now legal to consume and possess marijuana in Colorado, there are still limitations on what you can do.

1. What is Marijuana?

Marijuana - also known as weed, pot, bud and a variety of other names - is comprised of leaves, flowers and stems from the plant, Cannabis sativa. It can be consumed in many ways from rolling cigarettes to smoking through pipes to placing in cigar wraps to replace tobacco, or it can even be consumed by putting it into food like brownies or cookies. Within the plant is the strong chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that passes through the lungs and enters the bloodstream. When spread throughout the body, users of the drug feel “high." This high consists of rapid changes in mood, altered senses, body movement impairment, and other intoxicating, short term effects.

Marijuana is sought out by many and has become the most commonly used drug in the nation. In 2012, Coloradans voted to legalize marijuana under Amendment 64. Several other states including Washington, Oregon and Alaska have followed suit. Although it is now legal to consume and possess marijuana, there are still limitations on what you can do. Anyone arrested for violating the limitations set forth in the Colorado statutes may face charges for doing so.

1.1. Marijuana Drug Classifications in Colorado

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a classification of controlled substances in 1970 that organizes drugs based on levels of abuse and addiction. All states, including Colorado, have utilized this categorization of drugs to aid in developing penalties and sentences for drug offenses.

Marijuana falls under Schedule I on this list. Many scientists have contested its appearance in this schedule for years -- as it is in the same category as LSD and Ecstasy -- claiming that research opportunities are incredibly restricted. However, in August 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) refused to alter the scheduling of the drug.

Schedule I: Drugs that are scheduled in this category are deemed as more likely to be abused. They may be used for medical purposes if prescribed by doctors. If users become addicted to these drugs, acute psychological and physical dependencies can easily develop. Marijuana, along with Codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, methadone, morphine, cocaine and methamphetamines are included in this schedule.

2. The Unlawful Possession, Sale, and Cultivation of Marijuana in Colorado

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There are still regulations surrounding possessing more than the legal quantity of marijuana for personal use.

2.1. Unlawful Possession and use

Although smoking marijuana is legal, there are still regulations surrounding possessing more than the legal quantity of the drug for personal use. Penalties vary based on how much marijuana is a person has in his or her possession.

2.2. Unlawful possession and use penalties

More than one ounce, but less than two ounces

This offense is punishable by a fine that can not exceed $100 1

Between two and six ounces

This is a class two misdemeanor, punishable by 3-12 months in jail and/or a fine ranging from $250-$1,000. 2

Between six and 12 ounces

This is a class one misdemeanor, punishable by 6-18 months in jail and a fine ranging from $500-$5,000. 3

More than 12 ounces, or more than three ounces of concentrated marijuana

This is a class six felony, punishable by 1-2 years in prison and/or a fine ranging from $1,000-$100,000. 4

Less than five pounds, or one pound of concentrated marijuana

This is a violation of a class five felony, punishable by 1-3 years in prison and/or a fine ranging from $1,000-$100,000. 5

Between five and 100 pounds, or between one and 100 pounds of concentrate marijuana

This is a violation of class four felony, punishable by 2-6 years of imprisonment and/or a fine ranging from $2,000-$500,000. 6

3. The sale, transfer, or dispensing of an illegal amount of marijuana

The state of Colorado prohibits and imposes various sentences for the following:

  • The sale, transfer, or dispensing of more than 2.5 pounds of marijuana or more than 1 pound of marijuana concentrate to a minor if the person is an adult and 2 years older than the minor
  • The sale, transfer, or dispensing of more than 6 ounces, but not more than 6 ounces of marijuana or more than one-half ounce, but not more than 3 ounces, but not more than 1 pound of marijuana concentrate to a minor if the person is an adult and 2 years older than the minor
  • The sale, transfer, or dispensing of more than 1 ounce, but not more than 6 ounces of marijuana or more than one-half ounce, but not more than 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate to a minor if the person is an adult and 2 years older than the minor
  • The sale, transfer, or dispensing of not more than one ounce of marijuana or not more than one-half ounce of marijuana concentrate to a minor if the person is an adult and 2 years old than the minor

It is important to note that the sale of marijuana to minors has become a huge issue within the state, anyone found to be committing this crime can face strict consequences.

3.1. Penalties for the sale, transfer, or dispensing of an illegal amount of Marijuana

In Colorado, the sale, transfer and dispensing of marijuana is still illegal despite the legalization laws. The following quantities of marijuana cannot be distributed or sold in Colorado:

More than one ounce, but less than two ounces

Violators of this offense may pay a fine up to $100. 7

Display of less than two ounces

This offense is a class two petty offense, which is punishable by 15 days in jail or a fine up to $100.

Display of more than two ounces

This offense is classified as a class two misdemeanor, which is punishable by 3-12 months in jail and/or a fine ranging from $500-$5,000.

Between two ounces and five pounds to a minor (15-18)

This offense is a class 4 felony, which is punishable by 2-6 years in prison and/or a fine ranging from $2,000-$500,000. 10

More than five pounds to a minor (15-18)

This offense is class 3 felony, which is punishable by 4-12 years in prison and/or a fine ranging from $3,0000-$750,000. 11

Any amount to anyone under 15 years old

This offense is a class 3 felony. It's punishment is described above. 12

4. Unlawful processing, manufacturing or cultivation of marijuana

A person must have a license to manufacture or process marijuana in the state of Colorado. If a person does not have a license and is found to be be doing these activities, he or she can face serious repercussions.

In Colorado, it is unlawful for a person to possess with the intent to or knowingly, process or manufacture any marijuana or marijuana concentrate on unauthorized land. This means, if you don't have a license to process or manufacture the drug, you can be convicted of a drug offense.

Also, cultivating more than six marijuana plants at a time for personal use is illegal. Those who cultivate six or fewer plants for purposes other than personal use can be convicted of a class one misdemeanor.

4.1. Unlawful processing, manufacturing and cultivation penalties

Any person who violates the manufacturing and processing laws commits a Level 3 Drug Felony. This offense is punishable by 4-12 years in prison and a fine ranging from $3,000-$750,000.

You can be subject to a drug conviction under Colorado law if you cultivate:

Between 7 and 29 plants

This offense is a Class Five Felony, which is punishable by 1-3 years in prison, and a fine ranging from $1,000-$100,000. 13

30 plants or more

This offense is a Class Four Felony, which is punishable by 2-6 years in prison, and a fine ranging from $2,000-$500,000. 14

5. Defenses for Colorado Marijuana Charges

Any defenses that may be appropriate in a particular case will depend on the facts and circumstances of that case. Some potential defenses that could be used in a marijuana drug offense case include, but are not limited to:

  • The drugs were discovered in an illegal search and seizure
  • There is no evidence you are guilty of the charges you are facing
  • You have a valid prescription and instruction from your physician verifying the amount you were arrested with
  • There were no scales, pipes or any other equipment found during the search
  • You had a lawful quantity of marijuana on you during arrest

Call us for help…

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If you or someone you know is facing charges as a result of the violation of laws on marijuana, we encourage you to contact our Colorado drug lawyers for a free consultation.

We are dedicated to helping those who may have been unaware of the changing, and sometimes confusing, marijuana laws in Colorado keep a drug offense off of their record. We are well-versed in all that comes along with drug cases, which includes an understanding of how these cases are investigated by law enforcement and the district attorney.

In order to reach one of our skilled Colorado defense lawyers, fill out a confidential form or contact us by phone at 720-955-6112.

Denver Home Office:

Colorado Legal Defense Group

1400 16th Street

16 Market Square

Denver CO 80202


Legal References

  1. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(1)
  2. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(4)(a)(I)
  3. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(4)(b)(I)
  4. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(4)(c)(I)
  5. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(6)(b)(A)
  6. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(6)(b)(C)(D)
  7. Co. Rev. Stat. § 18-18-406(1)
  8. Co. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-18-406(3)(a)(I)
  9. Co. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-18-406(3)(a)(II)
  10. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(7)(a)
  11. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(7)(b)
  12. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(7)(c)
  13. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(7.5)(b)
  14. Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-406(6)

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