Ask a Stoner

Dear Stoner: What If You're Caught With More Than an Ounce?

Dear Stoner: I know that an ounce of weed is legal for adults 21 and up, but what happens if you have more than that amount on you? Are you going to jail?
Green Pockets

Dear Green: The answer? Maybe. You're right: You won't face any fines, penalties or jail time for an ounce or less if you're 21 or over, thanks to Amendment 64. Of course, you won't be facing jail time if you're between eighteen and twenty and holding an ounce, either. Technically, possession of up to two ounces has been decriminalized in Colorado since the 1970s for anyone eighteen and up; at most, you'll get petty-offense charges and a $100 fine. In fact, even if you're under eighteen you won't be facing jail time, as that amount has been decriminalized for kids (though if you're a minor and you're caught, you'll probably have to participate in a drug-awareness program).

But that doesn't mean you can't go to jail for having two ounces or less on you: Open and public use can get you fifteen days in jail and $100 in fines.

And there are plenty of other ways to become a criminal with weed in Colorado. Amendment 64 allows you to grow up to three flowering plants at a time and keep all that you harvest as long as the weed stays in the home where you grew it. But step outside the house with between two to six ounces, and you could face misdemeanor possession charges and get up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines. Six to twelve ounces gets you a year and a half and $10,000 in fines. More than twelve ounces and you're facing felony charges and $100,000 in fines, along with your eighteen months in jail.

Oh, and don't grow more than six plants, either. That's felony territory as well, with up to six years and a half-million dollars in fines. If you're under 21 with six plants or less, it's a misdemeanor with up to eighteen months in the slammer and up to $5K in fines.

We won't even get into hash and concentrates, other than to say that penalties start at eighteen months in jail for having more than one ounce and go up to felony charges with twelve years and $750,000 in fines for distributing more than 100 pounds. Serious stuff.

Finally, while Amendment 64 gave you the right to give away pot, don't sell it (or at least don't get caught). Unless you're a dispensary, selling anything from a gram up to five pounds is a felony with between one and three years in jail and $100,000 in fines. And if you're selling to a minor — even just a joint — you're looking at three to twelve years in jail and $75K in fines.

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes