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Colorado Cannabis FAQs
- What’s happening in Colorado?
- In November 2012, Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, which legalizes the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis at the state level for adults ages 21 and up. This new recreational market will open January 1, 2014.
- So all of Colorado will have legal cannabis shops?
- Not exactly. Some towns have enacted a moratorium to prevent any sort of marijuana business or facility from opening within their premises. These areas include Broomfield, Cañon City, Castle Pines, Colorado Springs, Dillon, Douglas County, Durango, El Paso County, Englewood, Erie, Estes Park, Fort Collins, Fort Morgan, Fremont County, Garfield County, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Greeley, Lafayette, Lamar, Longmont, Montrose, Morgan County, Norwood, Otero County, Palmer Lake, Paonia, Pueblo City, Thornton, Vail, Weld County, Wheat Ridge City, Windsor, and Woodland Park. Some of these moratoriums are temporary and set up so that the town can determine regulations and guidelines for local cannabis businesses.
- Will I be able to stroll into a dispensary on January 1st and purchase cannabis?
- Again, not exactly. Colorado is still in the process of setting up their recreational market. A handful of dispensaries have successfully gone through the licensing hearings and proper protocols to be able to sell recreational cannabis on January 1, 2014. However, other establishments are still in the process of getting set up according to state guidelines, so it's not exactly going to be a "Charlie running through the Chocolate Factory" situation when the new year hits. Some locations may still require a medical marijuana registry card until they can successfully switch over to a recreational setup if they choose to do so.
- What about federally? Is Colorado in the clear?
- Marijuana is still illegal on a federal level. However, in August 2013, the U.S. Attorney General announced that both Colorado and Washington State (who also voted in 2012 to legalize recreational cannabis) will be allowed to implement their legalized cannabis markets. The Department of Justice plans to take a “trust but verify” approach to the states’ laws and reserve the right to intervene and enforce cannabis laws as they pertain to eight priorities (listed here).
- Is recreational cannabis only legal for Colorado residents, or can visitors possess and consume as well?
- Anyone who is at least 21 years old will be able to legally possess up to an ounce of cannabis in the state of Colorado, whether you’re a resident or just passing through. You might want to start planning that vacation soon...
- Where will I be able to legally buy cannabis in Colorado?
- On January 1, 2014, recreational shops will open. These retail stores will be authorized to sell up to a quarter ounce of cannabis to consumers at a given time.
- Where can I consume cannabis in Colorado?
- You can consume cannabis in private residences with the homeowner’s permission or at your own domicile. You cannot consume cannabis on federal property (e.g., national parks, federal buildings), and some private businesses may ask you to leave if they don’t allow possession or consumption on their premises. Additionally, colleges and universities will disallow possession or consumption on campus. So basically, err on the side of caution and decency and enjoy your cannabis in private.
- What if I’m not 21 years old; can I still consume cannabis?
- You’ll be able to consume cannabis for medical purposes with parental consent and after getting approved as a medical marijuana patient (you’ll have to fill out the Medical Marijuana Application for Patients Under 18 Years of Age).
- Is it still legal for my employer to issue drug tests and reprimand/fire me if I test positive for cannabis?
- Yes. Employers can still determine their own drug policy and test their employees if they wish to uphold a drug-free work environment.
- Can I drive while possessing or consuming cannabis?
- You will not be allowed to consume cannabis in any vehicle unless you’re on your own private property. Possessing up to an ounce of cannabis while driving should be fine; however, you have to store your “open container” of cannabis in your trunk (not your glove box, not your pocket, not your center console).
- What about driving while under the influence of cannabis?
- You probably shouldn’t. Colorado’s legal THC limit when operating a vehicle is 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, which is quite a low level, especially for regular consumers. If a police officer pulls you over and suspects you to be under the influence of cannabis, he or she may request you submit to a blood test. You can refuse, but you will automatically lose your license for at least one year. You can also argue your case in court (that you were not impaired despite the levels of THC in your system), but the bottom line is that if you seem impaired, police will pull you over. (Thus, don’t drive while impaired!)
- How much will cannabis cost in Colorado?
- It’s a bit early to tell. Currently the black market price of an ounce of marijuana is $200. Colorado retail prices may start off at the same price but will add taxes (about 30%) onto the total. Prices are expected to fluctuate and eventually settle once the recreational market has had time to debut and stabilize.
- Can I travel outside of Colorado while possessing cannabis?
- If marijuana is found incidentally at the Denver International Airport, you could lose your stash and face a $999 administrative fine. TSA personnel have been told not to look for cannabis at security checkpoints, but if they happen across it, you may lose it and be alerted to airport police. This guideline applies whether you're traveling or just dropping someone off at the airport. It's best to err on the side of caution and leave your green at home. No word yet on whether this guideline applies to valid medical marijuana patients with proper documentation.
- What’s the difference between recreational and medical cannabis in Colorado?
- Valid medical marijuana patients can consume cannabis in the state if they’re under 21 years old and have parental consent plus proper authorization. Additionally, MMJ patients are allowed to legally possess up to two ounces of cannabis while recreational consumers can only possess up to one ounce. Medical marijuana is also exempt to the taxes that will apply to recreational cannabis.
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