Colorado Cannabis Laws

Know the Rules

Colorado’s cannabis laws are fairly simple, but you should still know a few things before you waltz into a dispensary or spark a joint on the street. Here are the basics:

  1. Who can buy pot in Colorado?

    You must be 21 or older to purchase recreational marijuana in Colorado, and you must present a government-issued ID for proof of age. If you are between the ages of 18 and 20 and would like to purchase marijuana, you will need to apply for a medical marijuana card — but only Colorado residents are eligible.

  2. Who can sell pot in Colorado?

    Every storefront that sells marijuana in this state must be licensed as a marijuana dispensary — but not all medical marijuana dispensaries sell recreational marijuana, and not all recreational dispensaries sell medical marijuana. Before heading out, make sure the dispensary you’re visiting caters to recreational purchasers, and check on its hours, as they vary from town to town. It is illegal for any unlicensed person or entity to sell marijuana; it is also illegal to buy marijuana from an unlicensed source.

  3. How much pot can I buy/possess?

    Colorado residents and visitors 21 and older may purchase up to 1 ounce of marijuana at a time per state regulations, but may possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana at a time (confusing, we know). Medical marijuana patients may purchase and possess 2 ounces of marijuana at a time.

  4. What about edibles and concentrates?

    The possession laws are the same for all types of retail marijuana, but dispensaries may only sell 8 grams of concentrates and edibles containing no more than 800 milligrams of THC to a customer. Medical marijuana patients abide by the same rules, but can purchase more if recommended by a doctor. Marijuana edibles and concentrates may not be consumed in public.

  5. Can marijuana be delivered in Colorado?

    Marijuana delivery is legal in Colorado, but like all marijuana businesses, a local government must opt into the practice first. So far, Denver and Aurora are the only major cities to have opted into recreational marijuana delivery, and a handful of dispensaries are currently participating.

  6. Where can I smoke pot in Colorado?

    Marijuana may not be consumed openly or publicly in Colorado. Under the law, that includes transportation facilities (train and bus stations, for example); schools; music, sports or amusement venues; parks and playgrounds (including Denver mountain parks, such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre); and rooftop cafes. You cannot smoke marijuana — or anything else, for that matter — indoors in any public areas, including restaurants, theaters or office buildings. It is also prohibited to consume marijuana on the 16th Street Mall (and on city blocks for one block in any direction of the mall). But there are several locally licensed consumption venues in Colorado Springs and Denver, and Colorado residents can smoke in the comfort of their own homes — assuming they own their home or their lease does not have any smoking restrictions. A short list of private marijuana lounges also operate in Colorado, requiring guests to sign up for a membership before entering.

  7. What about marijuana-friendly classes and events?

    There are several marijuana-friendly classes held regularly around Denver at private and licensed spots, including painting, cooking, yoga and sushi- and joint-rolling classes, as well as karaoke sessions. Find these classes and special marijuana events online at westword.com/marijuana.

  8. Can I give or sell marijuana to someone under the age of 21?

    No. It is illegal to give or sell retail marijuana to anyone under the age of 21.

  9. What is the penalty for possessing or consuming marijuana if I am not yet 21?

    In Denver, anyone between the ages of 18 and 20 caught possessing marijuana will face a civil penalty, not a criminal citation. Schools may have additional disciplinary policies for students caught with marijuana on school property. Other legal penalties can range from fines to jail or prison sentences.

  10. Is it okay to have marijuana in my car?

    Yes, you can carry marijuana in your car, but it must be in a sealed container, and it cannot cross state lines. It is illegal to consume marijuana in your car.

  11. Can I get a DUI for driving after smoking marijuana?

    Yes. The legal limit for driving after smoking marijuana is 5 nanograms or less of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter of blood. Anyone with 5 or more nanograms of THC in his or her blood can be arrested for DUI.

  12. Can I fly out of Denver with marijuana?

    No. Denver International Airport prohibits the possession, use, display or transfer of marijuana on its property. Other Colorado airports have similar rules, though some are less stringent than others.

Have more questions or suggestions for tourist tips? E-mail [email protected].