Drug policy of Colorado

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The U.S. state of Colorado has various policies restricting the production, sale, and use of different substances.


There are two sets of policies in Colorado relating to cannabis use, those for medicinal use and for recreational use.


From the time of the Colorado Amendment 64 taking effect, recreational cannabis in Colorado is legal to possess for people age twenty-one or older provided the amount is under 1 ounce (28.35 grams). Consumption is permitted in a manner similar to alcohol, with equivalent offenses prescribed for driving.[1] Public consumption remains illegal.[2][3][4] It is legal to sell cannabis provided the store has obtained a permit to do so, similar to alcohol laws in many states. Private non-commercial cultivation of cannabis is legal up to six plants per person.[5]

Governor Hickenlooper signed several bills into law on May 28, 2013 implementing the recommendations of the Task Force on the Implementation of Amendment 64.[6][7][8][9] On September 9, 2013, the Colorado Department of Revenue adopted final regulations for recreational marijuana establishments, implementing the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code (HB 13-1317).[10] On September 16, 2013, the Denver City Council adopted an ordinance for retail marijuana establishments.[11] The first stores are expected to open around January 1, 2014.


On November 7, 2000, 54% of Colorado voters approved Amendment 20, which amended the State Constitution to allow the use of cannabis in the state for approved patients with written medical consent. Under this law, patients may possess up to 2 ounces of medicinal cannabis and may cultivate no more than six cannabis plants (no more than three of these mature flowering plants at a time). Patients who are caught with more than this in their possession may argue “affirmative defense of medical necessity” but are not protected under state law with the rights of those who stay within the guidelines set forth by the state.[12] Furthermore, doctors, when making a patient recommendation to the state can recommend the rights to possess additional medicine and grow additional plants, because of the patient’s specific medical needs. Conditions recognized for medical cannabis in Colorado include: cachexia; cancer; chronic pain; chronic nervous system disorders; epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures; glaucoma; HIV or AIDS; multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea. Medical cannabis patients are still under the scrutiny of federal law. Additionally, patients may not use medical cannabis in public places or in any place where they are in plain view, or in any manner which may endanger others (this includes operating a vehicle or machinery after medicating). Colorado medical cannabis patients cannot fill prescriptions at a pharmacy because under federal law, cannabis is classified as a schedule I drug. Instead, patients may get medicine from a recognized caregiver or a non-state-affiliated club or organization, usually called a dispensary. Dispensaries in Colorado offer a range of cannabis strains with different qualities, as well as various “edibles” or food products that contain cannabis. Certain dispensaries also offer patients seeds and “clones” for those who want to grow their own medicine.[13]


Cannabis was first criminalized in Colorado on March 30, 1917.[14][15] For context, the United States declared war on Germany the following Friday on April 6, 1917, and the Eighteenth Amendment (establishing the Prohibition) was proposed by Congress on December 18, 1917.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Amendment 64:(1).b-III and 64:(6).b
  2. ^ The Denver Post Editorial Board (30 September 2013). "In Colorado, you still can't smoke marijuana in public". The Denver Post. 
  3. ^ Caldwell, Alicia (19 October 2013). "Colorado must carefully define 'public consumption' of marijuana". The Denver Post. 
  4. ^ Lee, Kurtis (11 November 2013). "Denver to continue tweaks to public pot consumption law". The Denver Post. 
  5. ^ http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/07/us-usa-marijuana-legalization-idUSBRE8A602D20121107
  6. ^ Flatow, Nicole (28 May 2013). "Six Ways Colorado Will Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol". Think Progress. 
  7. ^ "Gov. Signs Marijuana Bills Into Law". KKTV. AP. 29 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Kall, David M. (28 May 2013). "Legislature approves historic marijuana sales and excise taxes in Colorado". 
  9. ^ HB 13-1317 Implement Amendment 64 Majority Recommendation; HB 13-1318 Retail Marijuana Taxes; SB 13-283 Implement Amendment 64 Consensus Recommendations; HB 13-1325 Inferences For Marijuana And Driving Offenses; SB 13-250 Drug Sentencing Changes
  10. ^ Ingold, John (10 September 2013). "Colorado first state in country to finalize rules for recreational pot". The Denver Post. 
  11. ^ Meyer, Jeremy P. (17 September 2013). "Denver council passes historic retail marijuana rules and regulations". The Denver Post. 
  12. ^ "Marijuana Law Reform". NORML. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ Horner, Kylie (30 March 2012). "Marijuana criminalized in Colorado 95 years ago today: Unhappy anniversary?". Westword. 
  15. ^ Session Laws of Colorado. 21st Assembly. 1917. Ch. 39, p. 120. OCLC 1564150. 

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