What is and is not legal regarding marijuana in Colorado?

Recreational use of marijuana is legal but that does not mean people cannot be arrested for crimes involving marijuana.

While Colorado led the way in legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, that does not mean that use or possession of the drug is always legal. There are clear parameters on the growth, possession, sale and use of pot. People who violate these laws or who are believed to have violated them can find themselves subject to penalties. Therefore, knowing the truth about Colorado's pot laws is very important.

Possessing and consuming marijuana in Colorado

The State of Colorado expressly states that only people 21 years of age or older are legally allowed to possess or to use any amount of marijuana in Colorado. Up to one ounce of pot can be in the possession of an of-age Colorado resident at any given time. Possession by visitors to the state is capped at one-quarter of an ounce.

Giving pot to anyone under the age of 21 is illegal. Underage persons found possessing marijuana will face civil penalties.

Even for people legally allowed to consume marijuana, this cannot be done in public locations. A person can walk down a city street smoking a cigarette, but not a joint. Similarly, the Clean Indoor Air Act prevents smoking of marijuana in hotel rooms or other areas designated as smoke-free. A minimum of 75 percent of rooms in hotels, motels or inns must remain as no-smoking zones.

Growing and selling marijuana in Colorado

For now, marijuana can only be purchased at locations designated as sources for medicinal marijuana transactions. This includes for recreational use. In 2016, other businesses will be able to be licensed to legally sell recreational pot.

In the meantime, people can grow their own marijuana plants. The law requires that all plants are secured in locked areas, either inside or outside. Each home is limited to a maximum of 12 plants, if more than two people over 21 reside there. If only one person of age lives at a particular residence, then the maximum number of pot plants allowed is six. People under 21 are not to be allowed any access to marijuana plants in a private home.

Driving and marijuana in Colorado

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, drugged driving charges can result in penalties akin to drunk driving charges. A maximum of five nanograms of THC in a driver's blood is allowed. Levels beyond that are illegal, even if the pot has been used medicinally.

Officers can arrest drivers if they observe any behavior that suggests potential impairment. They can also request that drivers take blood tests. Test refusals will result in the revocation of drivers' licenses, as well as the required use of ignition interlock devices for as long as two years. No criminal conviction is required in order for these consequences to be in effect.

Important information for people in Colorado

Anyone who has been subject to criminal or civil actions involving marijuana use should get help immediately. Contacting an attorney with experience in this area is recommended.