Quick Guide to Legal Pot in Colorado
Each year millions of travelers visit Colorado to enjoy everything that our great state has to offer. A growing segment of this tourist market is marijuana enthusiasts. With recreational marijuana travels growing at an ever increasing rate, it behooves the traveler to have a sound understanding of the law surrounding recreational marijuana in Colorado.
Residents and non-residents alike are allowed to legally possess 1 oz. (28 g) of marijuana. This limit applies to both the flower (bud) as well as edibles. You do not need any special permit to purchase and carry this amount, however you do need to be over the age of 21 with a valid government issued form of identification.
Non-residents may only purchase ¼ oz. (7 g) at a time. The law states that this applies to “a single transaction,” however most dispensaries interpret this to mean per day. This limit can be reached through purchase of flower (bud), edibles, or a combination of the two.
These aren’t your college roommate’s homemade brownies. The State of Colorado has determined that a single serving edible equals 10 mg of THC. Many people find that about half of that is sufficient if they are new to edibles. In any case, pay attention to how much you consume and watch the clock because it can take up to an hour and a half to feel the effects and it stays in your system for up to 6 hours. Don’t re-dose until you are sure of how the edible is affecting you. Slow and low is the rule of thumb.
While it is legal to purchase and carry pot, smoking marijuana in public is still prohibited and is a criminal offense. Police throughout Colorado will enforce this provision and issue criminal citations for smoking in public. The public use or display of marijuana is a class 1 petty offense and carries a penalty of a fine of up to $100 and up to 24 hours of public service.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
Law enforcement in Colorado treats people accused of driving under the influence of marijuana, or driving stoned, identical to those accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. Colorado recently enacted legislation that creates an inference that you are impaired by marijuana at 5 ng. While there is plenty of evidence that frequent users have levels above 5 ng hours or even days after use, the limit is still there and prosecutors will use this limit against you. If you have smoked, vaped, eaten, or consumed marijuana in any way you should wait a bare minimum of 3 hours before getting behind the wheel.
If you are stopped and investigated for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana, an officer may require you to give a blood sample to determine your THC level. You do have the right to refuse, however if you refuse your license will automatically be suspended for a period of 1 year with a 2 year interlock requirement. This means that you would only be allowed to drive a vehicle with an ignition interlock device installed. This device would periodically check for alcohol in your system while driving and no, the irony of a device to check for alcohol when you were charged with driving under the influence of marijuana is not lost on us. Non-residents may lose driving privileges for up to 3 years with no ability to reinstate them early; and most states will honor this Colorado revocation, preventing you from driving at home too. Agreeing to take a test will avoid these license complications associated with testing (although there is still risk of a suspension due to excess points). While every case is different, the short version is this: Unless you have literally just smoked, you should probably agree to cooperate with a blood test.
Don’t do it! Transporting marijuana outside of Colorado whether on your person or via mail is a violation of state and federal law. You will be committing a felony offense and these charges are prosecuted aggressively in Colorado. Similarly, law enforcement in neighboring states are on high alert for individuals transporting marijuana through their territory. These officers will often pull motorists over just across the state line with little or no justification in the hopes of finding (now illegal) marijuana.