Coloradans passed Amendment 64 in November 2012, effectively legalizing the possession and sale of marijuana in the State of Colorado, making Colorado one of two places in the world where an adult, over the age of 21 can legally possess and consume marijuana recreationally. Amendment 64 gave the State until January 1, 2014 to create the framework and regulations necessary to allow for the retail sale of marijuana.
January 1st came and went rather uneventfully, but stepping back and looking at the significance of that day, it truly is historic. Since then, I’ve received countless phone calls from people planning on visiting not just Colorado Springs, but really the State of Colorado, seeking advice on what they’re allowed to do while here, in terms of purchasing and consuming marijuana.
It is my goal to address many of the most common questions I’ve been asked.
Can I Buy Marijuana While I Visit Colorado?
In short yes. Any adult, over the age of 21 can possess and consume marijuana in the State of Colorado. The law makes no distinction about in state residents versus tourists, in terms of the possession, purchase or consumption of marijuana in Colorado.
How Much Marijuana Can I Have?
This is where the law does make a distinction between residents and visitors. An adult with a valid Colorado ID can purchase up to one ounce of marijuana, while an individual with an out of state ID can purchase up to one quarter ounce at a time.
How Do I Purchase Marijuana?
Think of it much like purchasing alcohol. All you have to do is present a valid government issued ID, showing you are over the age of 21, and you are free to make your purchase up to the legal amount.
Where Can I Buy Marijuana?
Initially the State licensed 136 stores, statewide, allowed to sell marijuana. Keep in mind that cities, towns and counties are allowed to ban the sale of marijuana, and many have, like Colorado Springs for instance. Probably the best guide I’ve seen to legal pot shops is this one.
Are There Restricted Store Hours for Pot Shops?
Yes, Colorado law states that stores cannot open before 8:00am and cannot be open past midnight. Keep in mind though that each jurisdiction is allowed to make more restrictive hours and many have. Denver, for instance, won’t allow stores to remain open past 7:00pm.
How Can I Transport Weed I Legally Bought?
The best advice I can give on this issue is to place it in a closed trunk. This way, if you are stopped by law enforcement, there’s no question that you weren’t consuming it.
Can I Get a DUI For Smoking Weed in Colorado?
YES. In fact, Colorado has made it easier to prosecute you for driving stoned. Colorado has adopted an “express consent” law. This means that by virtue of operating a motor vehicle on Colorado roads, you consent to a chemical test of your blood or breath if an officer has probable cause to believe you are impaired. If the Officer believes you are high, they will require a chemical test of your blood. This allows them to determine how many nano-grams of active THC metabolites are in your blood at the time of driving. If you have more than 5 nano-grams of active THC metabolites, you are presumed to be substantially impaired, meaning that a DA could tell the jury that, regardless of any other indicators of impairment, or how well you did on the roadside tests, its OK for them to presume you were driving stoned. In short, don’t drive high.
Isn’t Weed Still Illegal Under Federal Law? Will the Feds Prosecute Me?
Yes and no. Marijuana remains illegal under Federal Law. That being said, the federal government has said that they will not prosecute the possession or sale of marijuana, so long as state law is being complied with, and those laws are “robust”. Colorado has tried to make the regulations regarding possession and sales of marijuana robust and well regulated, so as to prevent federal interference.
Can I Use My Credit or Debit Card to Legally Purchase Weed?
Someday. As it stands right now, pot shops are cash only businesses, due to federal banking regulations regarding money laundering and banks doing business with individuals dealing in areas illegal under federal law. This requirement will likely be changing soon though.
Where Can I Smoke Weed in Colorado?
This is probably the biggest challenge for out of state residents traveling to Colorado to smoke marijuana. Public consumption remains illegal, therefore, its really best to consume it in the privacy of your own home (although this too is an issue because landlords have the right to say no). You cannot consume it in National Parks, at Ski Areas, outdoors, and even a hotel has the right to say no, just like they can prevent you from smoking cigarettes in your room. I’ve been asked if you can smoke in your parked car. NO, please don’t ever smoke pot in a car, regardless of if it is parked and off, this is a recipe for disaster.
Anything Else I Should Know Before Coming to Colorado to Purchase and Smoke Marijuana?
First, the rules are constantly changing; I’ve tried to be as up to date as possible, but its best to check with an attorney before coming. Next, keep in mind that Colorado’s legalization is essentially an experiment and many other states and the federal government are watching it closely. Don’t do anything that could jeopardize its success. Don’t commit crimes, don’t provide marijuana to underage people, don’t try to take it home with you. Remember, if you ever want pot to be legalized in your state, it likely has to succeed in Colorado, don’t do anything that would potentially add to the negative statistics.
Steven Rodemer is a criminal defense attorney in Colorado Springs at The Law Office of Steven Rodemer, LLC. Steve has been named for three years as one of the “Top 40 Attorneys Under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers, a “Top 100” DUI Attorney by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense and was named as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers in 2014.