What drugs are legal in Colorado?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jan 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

Adults 21 or older can have up to one ounce of marijuana in Colorado. Recently, Denver voters chose to decriminalize psilocybin. (This is "magic mushrooms".) But it remains technically illegal.

Otherwise, Schedule 1 to 5 drugs remain illegal in Colorado. The only exception is having a valid doctor's prescription.

1. Is marijuana legal in Colorado?

Adults aged 21 and older can possess up to one ounce. It must be for recreational use. And it must be done in private.

The penalties for illegal possession depends on the amount. First-time possession of up to 2 ounces is a non-criminal petty offense. This carries up to $100.

Meanwhile, possessing more than 12 ounces is a level 4 drug felony. Penalties include:

  • 6 months to 1 year in prison; and 
  • A fine of up to $100,000

1.1. DUI of marijuana

It is a crime to drive while either:

  • Under the influence of marijuana; or
  • With at least 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter in the blood. It does not matter if the driver is unimpaired.

Defendants face fines, jail, and community service. The DMV may also suspend the driver's license. Learn more about DUI of marijuana.

1.2. Medical marijuana

Patients with current and valid medical marijuana cards may possess:

  • Up to 2 ounces of a usable form of marijuana; and
  • Up to 6 marijuana plants. Only three may be mature, flowering plants.

People of any age may be eligible for a medical marijuana card if they suffer from:

  • Cancer;
  • Glaucoma;
  • HIV or AIDS;
  • A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition. It must cause severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, persistent muscle spasms, or cachexia; or
  • Any other medical condition approved by the state health agency

The fraudulent use of a medical marijuana ID card can carry:

  • 6 to 18 months in jail; and/or
  • A fine of $500 to $5,000

1.3. Federal lands

Marijuana possession or use is still illegal on federal lands. This includes:

  • Federal housing,
  • Courthouses
  • Post offices,
  • National parks, forests or monuments,
  • Airports,
  • Veterans Administration buildings, and
  • Private facilities on federal land

A first-time offense for possession of marijuana on federal land may carry:

  • Up to 1 year in jail; and 
  • A fine of up to $1,000

Subsequent offenses carry harsher penalties, including mandatory incarceration.

2. Are magic mushrooms legal in Colorado?

No. However, voters in Denver had a recent referendum. They elected to "decriminalize" the active ingredient psilocybin. (As with marijuana, it applies only to adults 21 or older.)

This referendum has not been incorporated into the law yet. People can still be arrested for having psilocybin. But Denver police are now less likely to arrest people for simple possession.

Unlawful possession of magic mushrooms is a level 4 drug felony. Penalties include:

  • 6 months to 1 year in prison; and 
  • A fine of up to $100,000

But first-time offenders may be able to do rehab instead. Then the felony charge would be reduced to a misdemeanor.

3. Are any other narcotics legal in Colorado?

Schedule I, II, III, IV and V drugs remain illegal in Colorado. But patients may access some with a doctor's prescription.

Examples of illegal drugs include:

The penalty for recreational possession depends on the drug. Learn more about Colorado controlled substances laws.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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