Understanding the marijuana laws in the state of Colorado

Recreational marijuana has been legalized in Colorado, but there are still laws regulating its usage and violations could result in drug-related charges.

As of January of 2014, recreational marijuana became legal in the state of Colorado. Although people across the state can now purchase the formerly illegal substance, they do not have complete freedom when it comes to consuming marijuana. Consequently, there are situations that could result in people facing marijuana-related drug charges. In order to protect themselves, it is important for people to understand the state's marijuana laws.

Age restrictions

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado is not applicable for everyone in the state. Colorado's Laws About Marijuana information page points out that only adults age 21-years and older are permitted to buy, possess or use the drug. Minors who are caught with recreational marijuana could face penalties, including a fine, mandatory participation in a substance abuse education program or community service, depending on their prior record.

Smoking in public

Much like alcohol, there are stipulations regarding where people are able to consume marijuana. According to the Colorado Residents and Visitors information page, recreational marijuana is only legal for personal, private use. This means that people cannot consume the drug in public locations, such as restaurants, bars, common areas in buildings, sidewalks or parks. Further, people are not permitted to use marijuana in or near licensed retail marijuana locations.

Personal cultivation

Rather than obtain marijuana from a retail store, some people may choose to grow their own. Provided they do not have more than three plants in the mature stage at any given time, adults in the state are permitted to grow six plants each. However, there cannot be more than 12 plants in a given residence, even if there are more than two adults living there, according to the Colorado Retailers and Home Growers information page. Further, the plants must be grown in a space that is locked and fully enclosed to ensure no one under the legal age is able to access them.

Driving and marijuana

While recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, its consumption could still result in criminal charges for drivers. According to the state's Department of Transportation, motorists may be accused of DUI if they have more than five nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in their systems. Further, law enforcement may arrest people for DUI if their ability to operate their vehicles is impaired as a result of marijuana consumption.

Consulting with an attorney

Residents and visitors to the state of Colorado alike often misunderstand what the state's legalization of recreational marijuana actually means. As a result, they may unintentionally find themselves facing potentially serious drug charges. Those who have been charged with marijuana-related offenses may benefit from seeking legal counsel. An attorney may help them understand their rights and the laws as they apply to their cases, as well as to establish a solid criminal defense.