The Out of State Visitors Guide To Marijuana In Colorado
Marijuana Laws In Colorado
Colorado made national history when on December 10, 2012, state Amendment 64 was enacted, which legalized the possession and retail sales of marijuana in the State of Colorado. This amendment effectively made the state of Colorado the only place in America where someone 21 or over can legally purchase, possess and consume recreational marijuana.
In addition to it’s natural scenic beauty, the passage of Amendment 64 instantly created what is now referred to as “Marijuana Tourism” both for out-of-state U.S. residents, and visitors from all over the world.
Can Anyone Buy Weed In Colorado?
Coloradan’s and out-of-state visitors raced to take advantage of the fact that Colorado is just 1 of 2 places on the planet where the possession and consumption of recreational marijuana by persons over the age of 21 is legal. This level of interest has generated a high level of interest from persons interested in the do’s and dont’s regarding legalities of recreational marijuana use in Colorado, which I will attempt to address here.
What About Federal Law Concerning Weed?
The federal government under the administration in place at the time Amendment 64 was passed has made it clear that they would not enforce federal law as long as Colorado state laws were being actively adhered to and enforced. However, under federal law possession and use of marijuana is illegal.
What Are The Ways To Legally Purchase Weed?
Initially, all pot shops were strictly cash sales only as banks were hesitant to allow credit card use for fear of money laundering issues. That has changed now and most pot shops in Colorado offer the option to legally purchase weed using a credit or debit card.
So Where Can I Smoke Weed in Colorado?
Public consumption of marijuana remains illegal in Colorado. The safest legal option for both residents and out-of-town visitors is to consume marijuana within the security of a private residence. So do not consume pot in any public area including parks, hotel rooms or even your parked car. All of these seemingly innocent places to use marijuana can easily lead to serious legal consequences.
Who Can Buy Marijuana While Visiting Colorado?
Any adult person over the age of 21 can possess and consume marijuana in the State of Colorado, period. Amendment 64 makes no separate legal classification regarding rights of Colorado residents vs. out of state marijuana tourists regarding the purchase, possession, or use of marijuana in state of Colorado.
What Are The Marijuana Purchase Limits?
Amendment 64 is defines a purchase limit of one (1) ounce of marijuana for Colorado residents (Must have a valid and current ID). Out of state visitors may purchase up one-quarter ounce of marijuana (Must also have a valid and current ID).
How Is Recreational Marijuana Sold?
Recreational marijuana is sold at state-licensed and governed dispensaries. Simply visit and produce your valid state issued ID to purchase recreational marijuana on the spot.
The state of Colorado originally provided licenses to 136 dispensaries located across the state to sell recreational marijuana. However, the locations of marijuana stores is subject to approval at the county, city, and town level. For example, in Colorado Springs, the sale of recreational marijuana was prohibited, but in nearby Manitou Springs, the sale of recreational marijuana was allowed.
What Are The Operating Hours for Pot Shops in Colorado?
Colorado state law mandates that that marijuana stores cannot open before 8:00 a.m. and must close before 12:00 midnight. However, these operating hours may be further restricted by county, city, or community ordinances.
What Is The Safest Way To Transport Marijuana Legally Purchased?
The safest way to transport pot is in your closed and locked trunk.
What Are The Driving Penalties For Smoking Weed in Colorado?
The legal problems that you will face if you drive while high are many, and severe.
If you are stopped while driving while stoned in Colorado, you will be subject the state’s “Express Consent” law. This law states that by taking the action of operating any motorized vehicle on a Colorado road constitutes automatic consent to a blood or breath test if law enforcement personnel has reason to believe that doing so while ability impaired, in this case – high.
To determine if you are actually driving while stoned, authorities will order that a blood draw be made and your blood sample tested for the presence and the concentration level of active THC metabolites measured in nano-grams per liter. If more than 5 nano-grams of THC metabolites are present in your blood sample, you will be charged with a DUID offense.
Other Things to Consider Prior to Visiting Colorado to Smoke or Purchase Marijuana
Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana is still very much an evolving process subject to rapid rule changes from area to area. People supporting this legislation want nothing but the best for this industry and encourage residents an marijuana tourists alike to enjoy this newly created right by purchasing and consuming marijuana in a legal and responsible fashion. We encourage anyone who has a question about smoking pot in Colorado to first check with a attorney regarding any recently updated rules that they may not be aware of.
How Tourists Can Buy Marijuana in Colorado
Hey, it’s perfectly legal. Colorado doesn’t require a medical reason to purchase pot—and tourists can partake as well. But there are still rules. Here’s what you need to know to buy a high.
To find a business that will sell to visitors, search for “recreational cannabis dispensary.”
Some dispensaries only serve medical clients, but retail dispensaries are open to the public. Use PotGuide or Weedmaps to locate a facility and call ahead or check the website of the business to verify that it is open to public sales.
Bring I.D. and cash . . .
The eternal tussle between states’ rights and federal law puts the burden on you. Credit card companies are wary of running afoul of federal law, which still classifies marijuana sales as illegal, so most credit card issuers are unwilling to risk prosecution (unlikely as it would be) by facilitating sales.
Because of this, nearly all dispensaries have an ATM on the premises. Debit card usage may also be permitted.
Dispensaries generally take their licenses seriously and are extraordinarily careful about adhering to state standards, so your identification will be checked by a security guard before you are admitted into the main sales area.
. but you don’t need tons of cash.
How much should you bring? A gram of “bud” or “flower,” the terms for smokeable leaf, will average between $10 and $15.
Customers are technically permitted to buy only 1 ounce at a time (there are about 28 grams in an ounce, so you’d have to spend a lot before getting into the danger zone), but that ounce can be accumulated from multiple dispensaries. Marijuana leaf is light, so an ounce is way more than you’ll need on a casual visit to the state.
Dispensaries may sell you up to 8 grams of concentrates or edibles containing no more than 800 milligrams of THC.
You don’t need to know exactly what you want.
After your I.D. passes muster, you’ll be shown to the sales floor, where a clerk stands behind a glass case full of the dispensary’s products. Staff members may handle the product, but you can’t.
There may also be a binder or a menu that explains the various strains and blends. They tend to have names reminiscent of racehorses—Dairy Queen, Cheesequake, Kandy Apple, Gorilla Glue, Ghost Train Haze, and that old stoner’s standby, Sour Diesel.
Dispensaries are locked in an arms race over the best merchandise, the names of which will probably strike you as funny but not very useful. That’s why every dispensary worth its salt employs staff that can tell you exactly what each strain will do to you.
But this isn’t a winery—you cannot sample the goods.
Some basic cannabis knowledge helps.
Being familiar with the main varieties helps you know what to buy. Sativa (cerebrally focused effects), indica (body-focused effects), and a hybrid of the two are the three main schools. Your clerk will tell you how strong each one is.
If you’re a novice, don’t jump into the deep end—that means none of the wax, shatter, or other cannabis forms for advanced users—and stick to low dosages, measured in milligrams, unless you want to spend your entire visit to Colorado in a useless haze. Once you pick what you want, the clerk might hand your selection to another staffer, who will fill your order in another area and return the product to you right before you exit.
Keep a lid on it.
Clerks will give you the product in sealed, carefully marked containers. Think of the contents like booze: You’re not allowed to have an open container in the car with you.
Keep everything wrapped until you are able to use it in a “private, personal” (the state’s wording) place.
Know the difference between THC and CBD.
THC is the compound that makes you high, and it’s what the government is most interested in controlling. CBD, another chemical found in cannabis products, does not provide a high so it’s often considered harmless.
There are still rules.
No giving your purchase to minors—minors can’t even accompany you when you shop.
No driving under the influence, either, which means you shouldn’t partake of the dispensaries’ infused candies and brownies (otherwise known as edibles, which generally require a few hours to take effect and have longer-lasting results for some people) unless you have no intention of going anywhere for a day. The same issues in the federal law over cannabis that affect paying with credit cards have also made it hard for anyone to develop a reliable roadside test for THC, so it’s possible to get hauled in for not much more than suspicion.
Colorado’s legal limit for driving is 5 nanograms or less of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter of blood—but since you probably left your nanogram meter at home, best not to partake at all before driving.
To read the official warnings and rules about marijuana use in Colorado, check out the state’s FAQ page by clicking here.
Don’t let anyone smell it.
No displaying your purchase or using it in public (although you will see people doing that) unless you want to risk 15 days in jail. Some locals might argue that those rules are theoretical and that officers ignore pot use all the time, but the fact is that you can be penalized.
Some businesses, particularly in cities, have special permits allowing designated areas for pot smoking, but don’t dare try bringing a stash onto federal lands. Those include military bases and national parks, so don’t attempt a Rocky Mountain National Park Rocky Mountain high unless you want to be convicted of a federal crime, which leaves a mark on your background that can affect your life for years.
Don’t take it out of state.
Sheriffs from some other states are miffed about Colorado’s law, and not just because they’re jealous of the tax revenue. (Colorado’s weed regulation has been so successful that taxes it has raised have proved to be a boon for state services.)
Many people are driving over the border into Colorado, hitting dispensaries, and taking the goods back home. I was told at one Denver dispensary I visited that if a car looks like a mess, the driver risks being pulled over, but if the vehicle looks neat and professional, there probably won’t be a problem.
But the best strategy would be to avoid breaking the law in the first place.
Be careful if you smoke in a hotel.
If your hotel room has a no-smoking policy and you light a joint, you’ll face a fine from the owners. If you go on your balcony and light up, you theoretically face a fine for public use.
The trouble and stink of smoking is why many people are turning to vaporizers, which are often mostly odorless. Dispensaries usually sell those, too.
For our story on buying recreational cannabis in the state of California, click here.
How Tourists Can Buy Marijuana in Colorado Hey, it’s perfectly legal. Colorado doesn’t require a medical reason to purchase pot—and tourists can partake as well. But there are still rules. Here’s