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Understanding Marijuana Laws in Colorado

Understanding Marijuana Laws in Colorado

In Colorado, Cannabis has been legal for medical use since the early 2000s, and in 2012, voters approved the legalization of it for recreational use. While using marijuana is legal, there are still rules governing how old you must be, how much you can possess, and where you can buy and use it. 

This guide aims to simplify the rules and regulations for marijuana use in Colorado, both for recreational use and medical purposes. Whether you are a recreational user, patient, caregiver, or grower, understanding these laws is key to responsible and lawful marijuana use in Colorado. 


Recreational Marijuana Use in Colorado

Colorado was one of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The laws surrounding recreational use make sure individuals use it responsibly and safely. These regulations define who can legally use marijuana and how much they can possess, where they can use it, and other guidelines.


Legal Age and Marijuana Possession Limits

The legal age to possess and use marijuana for recreational use in Colorado is 21 years. This age requirement is strictly enforced to regulate access and usage. Additionally, there are clear limits on the amount of marijuana an individual can legally have. 

Colorado law permits a person aged 21 or over to possess two ounces of marijuana for recreational use. It’s illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase, possess, or use marijuana unless they have a medical marijuana card. Both residents and visitors must know these limits to comply with the state laws.


Cannabis Purchase and Consumption Locations in Colorado

Individuals can only purchase recreational marijuana in Colorado at licensed retail stores and with a valid ID verifying their age. While legal at the state level, many counties and cities have passed stricter laws about selling, using, or possessing recreational marijuana. It’s important to know the local laws as they differ across the state.

Adults over 21 may only buy up to one ounce of marijuana at a time. While only licensed retailers may sell marijuana products, adults may give up to two ounces of marijuana to another adult. Having more than the two-ounce limit can lead to fines and legal charges.

Public use of marijuana remains illegal, including at places such as parks, ski areas, streets, restaurants, and other businesses. You may only use marijuana on private properties, with the owner’s consent. For more details, you can refer to the Colorado Cannabis website.


Laws Covering Driving and Traveling with Cannabis in Colorado

In Colorado, it’s illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. The laws are strict to ensure road safety. If a driver has five nanograms or more of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter in their blood, they can be charged with a DUI. 

Marijuana’s effects can last longer than the immediate high, significantly impacting your ability to drive. While marijuana affects everyone differently, your reaction time is slower while under the influence, increasing the risk of an accident. For any safety-sensitive activity—such as driving, biking, or operating machinery—it’s best to wait six to eight hours or longer after consuming THC products.

Marijuana must also be in a sealed container while in a vehicle. It’s against the law for drivers and passengers to open any marijuana packaging and use the product, even if the vehicle isn’t moving.


Marijuana Laws and Youth

For anyone under the age of 21, it’s illegal to buy, possess, or use recreational marijuana. Colorado takes a firm stance on preventing underage access to ensure youth safety and health. Because of marijuana’s effects on younger users, and because brain development isn’t complete until around age 25, children and young adults should not use it.

Licensed retail stores that sell to underage buyers can lose their licenses, and adults who give marijuana to anyone underage can be charged with a felony. It’s illegal to have recreational marijuana on school property, and youth caught buying, selling, or using marijuana can face charges with lasting impacts. They may be subject to fines, loss of a driver’s license, and misdemeanor or felony charges.


Laws Covering Growing Marijuana at Home in Colorado

Colorado allows residents over 21 to grow marijuana at home for personal use. Each adult resident may have up to six plants, with a maximum of three flowering simultaneously. However, local laws may be stricter, limiting the number of plants at any residence, regardless of how many adults live there. Be sure to know your local marijuana laws and ordinances.

For home grows, Colorado specifies the plants must be grown in an enclosed, locked space that is not visible, which means you cannot grow them outside. Additionally, if there are residents or visitors under the age of 21 at a home, the grow area must be securely locked and inaccessible to minors. It’s essential to remember that selling homegrown marijuana is illegal and that only licensed businesses can sell marijuana products.


Medical Marijuana Use in Colorado

Colorado was among the first group of states to legalize cannabis for medical use, setting a precedent in the field of alternative treatment. This move opened doors for patients with various medical conditions to access marijuana as a therapeutic option. Colorado is committed to providing alternative treatment options while maintaining strict guidelines to ensure proper use.


Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana in Colorado

Colorado recognizes several conditions for medical marijuana use. These include debilitating conditions such as:

  • Cancer 
  • Glaucoma 
  • Cachexia 
  • Persistent muscle spasms 
  • Seizures 
  • Severe nausea 
  • Severe pain

Additionally, disabling medical conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Autism Spectrum Disorders, and conditions for which opioids might be prescribed are eligible.

To obtain a medical marijuana card in Colorado, patients must first have a written recommendation from a licensed physician confirming they have one of the qualifying medical conditions. They then apply to the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry, submitting the physician’s recommendation and necessary documents, which include a valid Colorado ID and social security number. Adults 18 and over are eligible for a medical marijuana card. Minors are also eligible with additional requirements.


Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

In Colorado, marijuana dispensaries may sell for medical use, recreational use, or both. Patients with a valid medical marijuana card are allowed to purchase up to one ounce at a time and possess up to two ounces. Dispensaries may offer a range of products specifically for medical use, which include various forms of marijuana such as flower, concentrates, edibles, and topicals.

It’s important for a patient to have their medical card with them when visiting a dispensary. The staff at dispensaries are knowledgeable and can help select products that align with a patient’s condition. Additionally, medical marijuana is subject to fewer taxes than recreational marijuana, which makes it cost significantly less.



The medical marijuana program in Colorado allows individuals to become caregivers for patients who need help with their medical marijuana. This plays a vital role in supporting individuals who may not be able to access medical marijuana independently. 

Caregivers can:

  • Grow marijuana on behalf of patients
  • Transport marijuana for homebound patients or minors
  • Advise patients on its medical use
  • Be the parent of a minor patient

A caregiver must be over the age of 18, a Colorado resident, and not a licensed medical marijuana business or the patient’s physician. To become a caregiver, you must register with the state and provide a copy of your ID. Your registration must be renewed each year.


Exploring Colorado’s Marijuana Laws with Freedom Road

At Freedom Road, we are committed to helping you understand Colorado’s rules and regulations surrounding legal marijuana use. Our focus is providing you with access to safe, effective, and quality marijuana products, whether for recreational or medical use.

For more information, we invite you to contact us or visit one of our Trinidad locations. Let Freedom Road help you find the medicinal and recreational cannabis products you need with the quality and confidence you deserve.