UPDATED NOVEMBER 12, 2020.
The State of Colorado updated its marijuana laws, legalizing the possession and sale of marijuana on December 10, 2012, by passing Amendment 64. This made Colorado one of two places in the world where an adult, over the age of 21 can legally buy, possess, and consume marijuana recreationally. Since that time, I have received countless phone calls from people wondering how much pot can they buy in Colorado, if anyone can buy weed in Colorado, and other marijuana-related questions while planning a visit to not just Colorado Springs, but the State of Colorado. It is my goal to address many of the common questions I've been asked.
CAN ANYONE BUY WEED OR MARIJUANA IN COLORADO?
In short yes. Any adult, over the age of 21 can purchase, possess, and consume marijuana in the State of Colorado. The law makes no distinction between residents of Colorado versus tourists who are visiting, in terms of the possession, purchase, or consumption of marijuana in Colorado.
HOW MUCH POT OR MARIJUANA CAN YOU BUY IN COLORADO?
While Colorado law has made a distinction between residents and visitors in the past, currently, a non-resident may purchase the same amount of marijuana as a resident. An adult with a valid ID can purchase up to one ounce of marijuana. Keep in mind that all marijuana is not flower, and the 1-ounce restriction applies to flower marijuana only. Colorado considers 1 oz of flower to be the equivalent of 8 grams of concentrate (shatter, wax, etc.), or 800 milligrams of edibles.
HOW DO I PURCHASE MARIJUANA IN COLORADO?
Think of purchasing weed or marijuana much like purchasing alcohol. All you have to do is present a valid government-issued ID, showing you are over the age of 21, and you are free to make your purchase of marijuana up to the legal amount.
WHERE CAN I BUY MARIJUANA IN COLORADO?
Initially, the State licensed 136 stores, statewide, the allowance to sell marijuana. Keep in mind that cities, towns, and counties are allowed to ban the sale of marijuana, and many have, like Colorado Springs for instance. Probably the best guide I've seen on legal pot shops and reputable places to purchase weed is curated on PotGuide.com
ARE THERE RESTRICTED STORE HOURS FOR PURCHASING WEED FROM POT SHOPS?
Yes, Colorado marijuana law states that stores cannot open before 8:00 am and cannot be open past midnight. Keep in mind though that each jurisdiction is allowed to make more restrictive hours and many have. Denver, for instance, only allows stores to be open until 10 pm. Make sure to check the hours for the specific store you plan to buy marijuana from.
HOW CAN I TRANSPORT WEED I LEGALLY BOUGHT?
The best advice I can give on the issue of transporting weed is to place it in a closed trunk. This way, if you are stopped by law enforcement, there's no question that you weren't consuming it.
CAN I GET A DUI FOR SMOKING WEED IN COLORADO?
YES. In fact, Colorado has made it easier to prosecute you for driving stoned on marijuana. Colorado has adopted an "express consent" law for marijuana, which set's a per se limit on how much THC can be in your blood, much like a BAC of .08 is the per se limit for alcohol. This means that by virtue of operating a motor vehicle on Colorado roads, you consent to a chemical test of your blood or breath if an officer has probable cause to believe you are impaired from drugs or alcohol. If the Officer believes you are high, they will require a chemical test of your blood. This allows them to determine how many nanograms of active THC metabolites are in your blood at the time of driving. If you have more than 5 nanograms of active THC metabolites, you are presumed to be substantially impaired, meaning that a DA could tell the jury that, regardless of any other indicators of impairment, or how well you did on the roadside tests, it's OK for them to presume you were driving stoned. In short, don't drive high.
ISN'T WEED STILL ILLEGAL UNDER FEDERAL LAW? WILL THE FEDS PROSECUTE ME?
Yes and no. Marijuana remains illegal under Federal Law. That being said, the federal government has said that they will not prosecute the possession or sale of marijuana, so long as state law is being complied with, and those laws are "robust." Colorado has tried to make the regulations regarding possession and sales of marijuana robust and well regulated, so as to prevent federal interference.
CAN I USE MY CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD TO LEGALLY PURCHASE WEED?
Laws have relaxed a bit, you can use a debit card or cash to buy weed in Colorado. Most dispensaries have ATM machines and if you pay with your debit card, it actually looks like an ATM transaction - and you generally have to pay an ATM fee. You cannot use a credit card to buy marijuana in Colorado.
WHERE CAN I SMOKE POT IN COLORADO?
This is probably the biggest challenge for out of state residents traveling to Colorado to smoke marijuana. Public consumption remains illegal, therefore, it's really best to consume it in the privacy of your own home (although this too is an issue because landlords have the right to say no). You cannot consume it in National Parks, at Ski Areas, outdoors, and even a hotel has the right to say no, just like they can prevent you from smoking cigarettes in your room. I've been asked if you can smoke in your parked car. NO, please don't ever smoke pot in a car, regardless of if it is parked and off, this is a recipe for disaster.
ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW BEFORE COMING TO COLORADO TO PURCHASE AND SMOKE MARIJUANA?
First, the rules are constantly changing; I've tried to be as up to date as possible, but its best to check with an attorney before coming. Next, keep in mind that Colorado's legalization is essentially an experiment and many other states and the federal government are watching it closely. Don't do anything that could jeopardize its success. Don't commit crimes, don't provide marijuana to underage people, don't try to take it home with you. Remember, if you ever want pot to be legalized in your state, it likely has to succeed in Colorado, don't do anything that would potentially add to the negative statistics.
-Steven Rodemer, Esq.