What You Need to Know About Legally Possessing & Using Marijuana
Wisdom of the Day: When people are bored, they love to get intoxicated (apparently). When Stay at Home Orders began to take effect in March 2020, cannabis sellers saw a 52% – 130% national average increase in store revenue. Alcoholic beverage sales increased 55% on average compared to March 2019. With increased usage comes the possibility for increased rule-breaking. And it doesn’t help that Colorado marijuana laws can definitely be confusing, especially as they conflict with federal laws. We’ve created a short summary on what you need to know about marijuana use in Colorado to stay out of trouble.
The most important thing to know is that cities and counties can have small differences in their usage rules. The laws below are for the state, but it’s worth looking into if there are any additional restrictions on your area specifically.
General Laws on Buying & Selling
As you probably already know, you must be 21 years old to legally purchase marijuana and you can only purchase up to one ounce at a time. What you might not know is that if you sell, give, or share marijuana to someone younger than 21, it is considered a felony offense according to Colorado Revised Statute 18-18-406. In fact, you are not allowed to sell marijuana at all unless you are a licensed retailer. This includes homegrown product. You can, however, give up to one ounce to another adult who is at least 21 years old.
General Laws on Usage
One of the most important rules for marijuana usage is knowing where you are allowed to use. The use on public property is illegal, and includes sidewalks, parks, concert venues, businesses, and more. Additionally, the use on federal land is also illegal. This includes national parks, national forests, and ski slopes.
In the not-so-distant future, there could be an exception to restrictions on public property. Some restaurants, hotels, music venues, and other businesses are allowed to apply for social marijuana use permits. This does not apply statewide, and only is applicable if a specific town or county decides to opt into the program. This includes temporary licenses for special events. However, these establishments would not be allowed to hold an active liquor license at the same time. So keep an eye out, because some more weed-friendly cafes may be opening soon!
You can also generally use on private property, unless the property owner says otherwise. Property owners are allowed to ban use and possession on their property, which could be an issue if you rent. Hotels are also allowed to ban the use and possession on their property. Overall, the safest bet is your own home, but make sure your landlord doesn’t forbid use if you rent.
There are other Colorado marijuana laws that you should know about if you plan on possessing or using.
First, employers are still able to test for marijuana and make employment decisions depending on the results. So yes, you may legally be able to smoke weed in your own home. However, your job can still fire you for it. It is worth looking into your own workplace policies to see what they restrict. Some employers, such as those whose employees operate heavy or dangerous machinery, will be more strict than others.
You could face legal consequences for using marijuana during pregnancy. If your baby tests positive for THC at birth, hospitals are required to notify child protective services.
You must also be careful when transporting marijuana. There is an “open container” law in Colorado that places restrictions on taking your marijuana home. It is illegal to possess in marijuana or alcohol in your vehicle if the container itself is open, has a broken seal, or there is evidence of consumption. This includes plastic bags. So be careful how and where you place marijuana in your car when taking it home. And of course, marijuana can not cross state boundaries in any circumstance (sorry, Nebraska.)
Lastly, it is illegal to use and drive. For more information about this, see our blog post Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID).
The Bottom Line
We are proud to live in a state that is (relatively) progressive on marijuana usage laws because Colorado believes that there shouldn’t be criminal penalties for smoking pot in their own home. Even more exciting is the appearance of more lenient changes to the laws every year to allow for this freedom. This year, we are starting to see marijuana-friendly businesses and even delivery options. We are excited to see what changes 2021 brings – and we promise we’ll keep you updated too.
So maybe you have more questions, or already broke one of these rules. If you are in need of legal help, consider reaching out to Nicol Gersch Petterson for a free 30-minute consultation. Find more information at https://NicolGerschLaw.Com or call 970.670.0378.
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