Colorado "use of a controlled substance" laws
(Colorado 18-18-404 C.R.S.)

The penalty for unlawfully using drugs in Colorado

Section 18-18-404 (1)(a) of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) provides:

Except as is otherwise provided for offenses concerning marijuana and marijuana concentrate in sections 18-18-406 and 18-18-406.5, any person who uses any controlled substance, except when it is dispensed by or under the direction of a person licensed or authorized by law to prescribe, administer, or dispense the controlled substance for bona fide medical needs, commits a Colorado level 2 drug misdemeanor.

Before March 1, 2020, the penalty is a fine of $50-$750 with a possible jail sentence of up to 12 months.

Starting March 1, 2020, the punishment is:

  • Probation of up to 1 year;
  • Possibly 120 days in jail; and
  • Up to $500

But for a 3rd or subsequent offense, up to 180 days in jail

What is a controlled substance?

18-18-102 (5) C.R.S. provides:

“Controlled substance” means a drug, substance, or immediate precursor included in schedules I through V of part 2 of this article, including cocaine, marijuana, marijuana concentrate, cathinones, any synthetic cannabinoid, and salvia divinorum.

18-18-102 C.R.S. covers both illegal drugs and medications that are unlawful to possess without a valid prescription. These include (without limitation) commonly abused drugs, such as:

  • Cocaine,
  • LSD,
  • Heroin,
  • Codeine,
  • Vicodin,
  • Oxycontin,
  • Fentanyl,
  • Amphetamine,
  • Methamphetamine, 
  • Anabloic steroids,
  • Ecstasy,
  • GHB,
  • Ketamine, and
  • Barbiturates.

Defenses to unlawful use of a controlled substance.

Although the punishment for unlawfully using a controlled substance is only a fine, the charges are often worth defending, especially when there are employment-related implications.

Common defenses to unlawful drug use include (but are not limited to):

  • There is no evidence that you used a controlled substance,
  • You had a valid prescription and used the drugs as instructed by your physician,
  • A drug test violated your constitutional rights,
  • Your drug test results were unreliable, or
  • There was police misconduct.

Call us for help…

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Call us at 303-222-0330

Our caring Colorado criminal defense lawyers know that innocent people are often accused of unlawful drug use simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. And if what you need is treatment rather than punishment, we will do our best to ensure that the judge defers sentencing until you can get the help you need.

If you have been accused of violating Colorado drug laws, we invite you to contact our Colorado drug defense lawyers for a free consultation. We will get back to you promptly to discuss your case and the best defenses to your Colorado drug charges.

You can reach us by filling out the confidential form on this page, or at our centrally located Denver home office:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver CO 80211
(303) 222-0330



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