Colorado Cannabis Offense Lawyer
We at Hebets & McCallin, Denver Criminal Lawyers, have extensive experience handling a wide range of marijuana offenses. Even though marijuana was partially legalized in 2013 in Colorado, there are still many legal prohibitions surrounding the plant that remain on the books. We discuss a few of these laws below.
Under Colorado law, a person is currently allowed to possess 1 oz of marijuana or up to 6 plants (if a medical marijuana patient) without any criminal penalty. A plant count can be elevated if a person is a registered medical marijuana patient. It is important to note that all possession of marijuana still violates federal law, even though federal law enforcement agencies do not seem particularly interested in people who possess small amounts of marijuana.
A person may consume marijuana privately without penalty. Public consumption, however, is prohibited, and open consumption is a petty offense which carries a fine and up to 24 hours of community service. There is some nuance as to what constitutes “public,” but for the most part, if you in the open consuming marijuana, you are breaking the law.
- Possession of more than one ounce but less than two ounces is a petty offense.
- Possession of more than to ounces but less than six ounces is a level 2 drug misdemeanor.
- Possession of more than 6 ounces but less than 12 ounces is a level 1 drug misdemeanor.
- Possession of more than 12 ounces is a level 4 drug felony.
While simple possession laws have significantly relaxed, law enforcement agencies are still going after individuals who are clearly dispensing or distributing marijuana. A person also faces additional charges if the distribution occurs over state lines, and may attract the attention of federal law enforcement in addition to state violations other than those of Colorado.
- Distribution of not more than 4 ounces is a level 1 drug misdemeanor.
- Distribution of more than 4 ounces but not more than 12 ounces is a level 4 drug felony.
- Distribution of more than 12 ounces but less than 5 pounds is a level 3 drug felony.
- Distribution of more than 5 pounds but less than 50 pounds is a level 2 drug felony.
- Distribution of more than 50 pounds is a level 1 drug felony, subject to mandatory prison time.
Cultivation of marijuana is another category of the marijuana legal matrix. This is complicated, because if a person has a registered medical marijuana patient, or if they are a caregiver, they may have a permissible elevated plant count. Generally, however, here is the breakdown:
- Cultivation of not more than 6 plants is a level 1 drug misdemeanor (allowable if person is registered medical marijuana patient).
- Cultivation of more than 6 plants, but less than 30 plants is a level 4 drug felony (allowable if a person is a registered medical marijuana patient and has physician authority for an elevated plant count).
- Cultivation of more than 30 plants is a level 3 drug felony (allowable if a person is a registered medical marijuana patient and has physician authority for an elevated plant count).
There are other restrictions that relate to cultivation. The residence or property for cultivation must not have anyone under the age of 21 living there. Also, the grow must be under lock and key, not accessible to the public.
Distribution to a Minor
This is one area where the law is extremely harsh to violators. If a person is accused of providing marijuana to a minor, and they are merely two years or more older than the child, they face extremely heavy sentences, which can include up to 32 years in prison depending on the amount of marijuana distributed. Even distributing less than an ounce to a child is a level 4 drug felony. Thus, for example, if a senior in high school who is 18 provides marijuana to his 16 year old friend, he is looking at the possibility of a felony conviction.
While Colorado has been a pioneer state regarding the legalization of marijuana, there is still plenty of enforcement and regulation as to how it can be obtained, who can use it, who can grow it, who can sell it, and how much you can have of it. In other words, to say that marijuana has been completely legalized is very much not true.
People also need to be aware that just because you can obtain marijuana in Colorado legally does not mean that your home state not prosecute you if you are found with marijuana. Law enforcement agencies in border states are strictly enforcing their own marijuana laws, and are targeting individuals seen traveling outside of Colorado.
We also have information on driving under the influence of marijuana.
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