Colorado Marijuana Laws

Just the Facts

Confused by Colorado's recreational marijuana rules? You're not alone. Learn your way around the state's pot laws with Billy in this 1950s-style PSA. - By Bailey Geoghan

Yes, marijuana is legal in Colorado – but rules still apply.

  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 21 and would like to purchase marijuana, you will need to apply for a medical card (or "red card"). While you do not have to be a resident to buy recreational marijuana, only Colorado residents can acquire a red card. It is illegal to buy marijuana from an unlicensed source.

  2. Who can sell pot in Colorado?

    Every storefront that sells recreational marijuana in Denver must be licensed as a marijuana dispensary – but not all medical marijuana dispensaries sell recreational marijuana. Before heading out to make your connection, make sure the dispensary 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.

  3. Where can I smoke pot in Colorado?

    Marijuana may not be consumed openly or publicly in Colorado. Under the law, those forbidden spots include 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, such as 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 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.

  4. How much pot can I buy/possess?

    Colorado residents and visitors alike can purchase up to one ounce of marijuana at a time. Adults 21 and older (both residents and non-residents) may possess one ounce of marijuana at a time.

  5. What about edibles?

    The possession laws are the same for all types of retail marijuana. Marijuana edibles may not be consumed in public.

  6. 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.

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

    In Denver, anyone aged 18 to 21 caught possessing marijuana will face a civil penalty, not a criminal citation. Schools may have additional disciplinary policies for students caught with retail marijuana on school property. Other legal penalties can range from fines to jail or prison sentences.

  8. 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 boundaries. It is illegal to consume marijuana in your car.

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

    Yes. The legal limit for driving after smoking marijuana is 4 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.

  10. Can I fly out of Denver with marijuana?

    No. Denver International Airport prohibits the possession, use, display and 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 marijuana@westword.com.

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