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colorado laws on growing cannabis

Colorado Laws and Penalties

Possession

Personal Use
With Intent to Distribute

Sale or Distribution

Cultivation

Hash & Concentrates

Possession
Distribute, Transfer, or Possess with Intent

Paraphernalia

Penalty Details

Possession for Personal Use

Private possession by persons 21 years of age or older of up to one ounce is no penalty. Private cultivation of up to six marijuana plants, with no more than three being mature is no penalty. Transfer of one ounce or less for no remuneration is no penalty.

  • Colo. Const. Art. XVIII, Section 16(3) Web Search

Possession of more than 1 – 2 ounces is a drug petty offense that is punishable by a maximum fine of $100. The offender will be summoned and a court appearance is mandatory. Failure to appear in court is a Class 3 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $750.

Possession of more than 2 to 6 ounces of marijuana is a level 2 drug misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1-year imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $700.

Possession of more than 6 ounces to 12 ounces is a level 1 drug misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to eighteen months of imprisonment and a fine of $500 – $5000.

Possession of more than 12 ounces is a level 4 drug felony which is punishable by 6 months – 2 years of imprisonment, as well as a fine between $1,000-$100,000.

One who openly and publicly displays, uses, or consumes 2 ounces of marijuana or less is guilty of a drug petty offense and may be subject to24 hours of community service as well as a maximum fine of $100.

  • § 18-1.3-401.5 Web Search
  • § 18-1.3-501 Web Search
  • §§ 18-18-406(4), (5) Web Search
Possession with Intent to Distribute

Possession of 8 ounces of marijuana or more is a lesser-included offense of possession with the intent to distribute. Each element of the possession offense is included except the quantity, which is a sentence enhancer, not an essential element of the offense.

  • People v. Garcia, 251 P.3d 1152 (Colo. App. 2010). Web Search
Sale or Distribution

Transfer of one ounce or less for no remuneration by persons 21 years of age or older is no penalty.

  • Colo. Const. Art. XVIII, Section 16 Web Search

Retail sales of cannabis by state-licensed entities to those over the age of 21 are regulated in this state. Marijuana sales by unlicensed entities remain subject to criminal penalties.

The sale of 4 ounces or less of marijuana is a level 1 drug misdemeanor punishable by 6-18 months imprisonment as well as a fine between $500-$5,000.

The sale of more than 4 ounces, but not more than 12 ounces of marijuana is a level 4 drug felony and punishable by a sentence of 6 months – 2 years and a fine of $ 1,000 – $ 100,000.

The sale of more than 12 ounces but not more than 5 pounds of marijuana is a level 3 drug felony punishable by a sentence of 2 – 6 years and a fine of $ 2,000 – $ 500,000.

The sale of more than 5 pounds but not more than 50 pounds of marijuana is a level 2 drug felony punishable by a sentence of 4 – 16 years and a fine of $ 3,000 – $ 750,000.

The sale of more than 50 pounds of marijuana is a level 1 drug felony and punishable by a sentence of 8 – 32 years and a fine of $ 5,000 – $ 1,000,000.

  • § 18-1.3-401.5 Web Search
  • § 18-1.3-501 Web Search
  • § 18-18-406(2)(b) Web Search
To a Minor:

The sale, transfer, or dispensing of not more than 1 ounce of marijuana to a minor if the person is an adult and two years older than the minor is a level 4 drug felony punishable by a sentence of 6 months – 2 years and a fine of $ 1,000 – $ 100,000.

The sale, transfer, or dispensing of more than one ounce, but not more than six ounces of marijuana to a minor if the person is an adult and two years older than the minor is a level 3 drug felony punishable by a sentence of 2 – 6 years and a fine of $ 2,000 – $ 500,000.

The sale, transfer, or dispensing of more than 6 ounces, but not more than 2.5 pounds of marijuana to a minor if the person is an adult and two years older than the minor is a level 2 drug felony punishable by a sentence of 4 – 16 years and a fine of $ 3,000 – $ 750,000.

The sale, transfer, or dispensing of more than 2.5 pounds of marijuana to a minor if the person is an adult and two years older than the minor is a level 1 drug felony punishable by a sentence of 8 – 32 years and a fine of $ 5,000 – $ 1,000,000.

  • § 18-1.3-401.5 Web Search
  • § 18-1.3-501 Web Search
  • § 18-18-406(1) Web Search
Cultivation

There is no penalty in Colorado for persons who privately cultivate up to 6 marijuana plants, with no more than 3 being mature.

  • Colo. Const. Art. XVIII, Section 16(3) Web Search

The cultivation of 6 plants or fewer is a level 1 drug misdemeanor punishable by 6-18 months imprisonment as well as a fine between $500-$5,000, if not at least 21 years of age.

The cultivation of more than 6 but not more than 30 plants is a level 4 drug felony punishable by 6 months – 2 imprisonment as well as a fine between $1,000-$100,000.

The cultivation of more than 30 plants is a level 3 drug felony punishable by 2-6 years imprisonment as well as a fine between $2,000-$500,000.

  • § 18-1.3-401.5 Web Search
  • § 18-1.3-501 Web Search
  • 18-18-406(3) of the Colorado Revised Statutes Web Search
Hash & Concentrates

Private possession by persons 21 years of age or older of up to one ounce is no penalty.

  • Colo. Const. Art. XVIII, Section 16 Web Search

Possession of more than 1 – 3 ounces of hashish or extracts is a level 1 misdemeanor punishable by a fine between $500 and $5,000 dollars and/or a term of imprisonment between 6 and 18 months.

Possession of more than 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate commits a level 4 drug felony punishable by 6 months – 2 years imprisonment as well as a fine between $1,000-$100,000.

  • § 18-1.3-401.5 Web Search
  • § 18-1.3-501 Web Search
  • § 18-18-406(4) Web Search

The sale of 2 ounces or less of marijuana concentrate is a level 1 drug misdemeanor punishable by 6 -18 months imprisonment as well as a fine between $500-$5,000.

The sale of more than 2 ounces – 6 ounces of marijuana concentrate is a level 4 drug felony punishable by 6 months -2 years imprisonment as well as a fine between $1,000-$100,000.

The sale of more than 6 ounces – 2.5 pounds of marijuana concentrate is a level 3 drug felony punishable by 2 – 6 years imprisonment as well as a fine between $5,000-$500,000.

The sale of more than 2.5 – 25 pounds is a level 2 drug felony punishable by a sentence of 4 – 16 years and a fine of $ 3,000 – $ 750,000.

The sale of more than 25 pounds is a level 1 drug felony punishable by a sentence of 8 – 32 years and a fine of $ 5,000 – $ 1,000,000.

  • § 18-1.3-401.5 Web Search
  • § 18-1.3-501 Web Search
  • § 18-18-406(2)(b) Web Search
Sale to a Minor:

The sale, transfer, or dispensing of more than 1 pound of marijuana concentrate to a minor if the person is an adult and two years older than the minor is a level 1 drug felony punishable by a sentence of 8 – 32 years and a fine of $ 5,000 – $ 1,000,000.

The sale, transfer, or dispensing of more than 3 ounces, but not more than 1 pound of marijuana concentrate to a minor if the person is an adult and two years older than the minor is a level 2 drug felony punishable by a sentence of 4 – 16 years and a fine of $ 5,000 – $ 750,000.

The sale, transfer, or dispensing of more than .5 ounces, but not more than 3 ounces, of marijuana concentrate to a minor if the person is an adult and two years older than the minor is a level 3 drug felony punishable by a sentence of 2 – 6 years and a fine of $ 2,000 – $ 500,000.

The sale, transfer, or dispensing of not more than .5 ounces of marijuana concentrate to a minor if the person is an adult and two years older than the minor is a level 4 drug felony punishable by a sentence of 6 months – 2 years and a fine of $ 1,000 – $ 100,000.

  • § 18-1.3-401.5 Web Search
  • § 18-1.3-501 Web Search
  • § 18-18-406(1) Web Search
Paraphernalia

Possession of paraphernalia is a drug petty offense that is punishable by a fine of up to $100.

  • § 18-18-428 of the Colorado Revised Statutes Web Search
More Information
Conditional Release

The state allows conditional release or alternative or diversion sentencing for people facing their first prosecutions. Usually, conditional release lets a person opt for probation rather than trial. After successfully completing probation, the individual’s criminal record does not reflect the charge.

Drugged Driving

Every state criminalizes driving under the influence of a controlled substance. Some jurisdictions also impose additional per se laws. In their strictest form, these laws forbid drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have a detectable level of an illicit drug or drug metabolite (i.e., compounds produced from chemical changes of a drug in the body, but not necessarily psychoactive themselves) present in their bodily fluids above a specific, state-imposed threshold. Read further information about cannabinoids and their impact on psychomotor performance. Additional information regarding cannabinoids and proposed per se limits is available online.

Expungement

This state has enacted legislation explicitly providing the opportunity for those with marijuana convictions for activities that have since been decriminalized/legalized to have their record expunged.

Legalization

Generally, legalization means a policy that supports a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers can buy marijuana for personal use from a safe legal source.

Medical Marijuana

This state has medical marijuana laws enacted. Modern research suggests that cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include pain relief, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorders. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant and emerging research suggests that marijuana’s medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors, and are neuroprotective.

Colorado Laws and Penalties Possession Personal Use With Intent to Distribute Sale or Distribution Cultivation Hash & Concentrates Possession Distribute, Transfer, or Possess

Legal Guide to Colorado Marijuana Business Licensing

July 29, 2019 | Bill Henry

In this guide, you’ll learn about how to get a relevant Colorado Marijuana business license and how to keep it.

In Colorado there are three sections of cannabis law. Medical marijuana is the first, retail the second, and industrial hemp the third.

Before you can get into a business in one of these areas, you must meet the requirements to apply.

First, you’ll need to complete a Marijuana Business License Application through the Colorado State Licensing Authority.

There are several types of marijuana business licenses, and which one(s) you need will depend on the type of business you want to start.

Everyone involved in your proposed business must have clean criminal histories.

They must also not be employed by a local or state authority (such as a sheriff’s department). You must also be free of any convictions involving controlled substances within the last 10 years (although never is better) and be fully discharged of any other felony convictions for at least five years. The state licensing authority will perform background checks on everyone, so it’s best to sort this out before beginning the application process.

You must also be at least 21 years old and a Colorado resident for at least two years.

The same goes for financial partners and employees.

If you’re in the Denver metro area, the city has a complete set of documents and requirements located here.

Applications and Fees

The first step to getting a marijuana business license is completing relevant applications. Which ones you need will depend on what type of marijuana business you intend to open.

Once all applications have been filled out and all necessary fees are paid, you will need an appointment with the Marijuana Enforcement Division. You’ll need to bring copies of all documentation, every part-owner of the potential business, and personal identification (such as a drivers’ license or passport) for all parties under the application.

Once approved, owners will be fingerprinted and will then pay the state application/licensing fee along with the Local Authority Application fee.

Retail Marijuana

These are the classes of Retail Marijuana Business Licenses, directly from colorado.gov:

  • Retail Marijuana Store: license type necessary to operate a business that sells Retail Marijuana to an individual twenty-one years of age or older as described in section 44-12-402 C.R.S.
  • Retail Marijuana Cultivation: license type necessary in order to operate a facility to grow and harvest Retail Marijuana plants as described in section 44-12-403 C.R.S.
  • Retail Marijuana Product Manufacturer: license type necessary in order to operate a facility that manufactures retail marijuana-infused products such as edibles, concentrates or tinctures as described in section 44-12-404 C.R.S.
  • Retail Marijuana Testing Facility: license type necessary in order to operate a facility that conducts potency and contaminants testing for other MED Licensed Retail Marijuana businesses as described in section 44-12-405 C.R.S.
  • Retail Marijuana Transporter: license type necessary in order to provide transportation and temporary storage services to Retail Marijuana Businesses as described in section 44-12-406 C.R.S.
  • Retail Marijuana Operator: license type necessary to provide professional operational services to one or more Retail Marijuana Businesses as described in section 44-12-407 C.R.S.

Once you’ve completed your materials, you’ll send them here:

MED Lakewood Office at 1701 Cole Blvd., Suite 300, Lakewood Colorado, 80401

Hours: 8:00 – 11:00 AM and 1:00 – 4:00 PM, Monday – Friday.

Costs at a Glance
  • New application fee: $4,000
  • New application for converting medical cultivation facility to adult-use: $1,750
  • Annual renewal fee (1,801 to 3,600 plants): $1,100
  • Annual renewal fee (3,601 to 6,000 plants): $1,800
  • Annual renewal fee (6,001 to 10,200 plants): $3,300
  • Annual renewal fee (10,201 to 13,800 plants): $5,300
State fees:
  • Retail Marijuana Cultivation (same as “new application fee” above): $4,000
  • Retail Marijuana Transporter: $4,900
  • Retail Marijuana Operator: $2,700
  • Affiliated Interest: $200
  • Commercially Reasonable Royalty Interest Holder with more than 30% stake: $400
  • Commercially Reasonable Royalty Interest Holder w stake less or equal to 30%: $200
  • Permitted Economic Interest $400 Profit Sharing Plan Employee $200
  • Qualified Limited Passive Investor – Limited Initial Background Check $75
  • Qualified Limited Passive Investor – Full background for reasonable cause $125
  • Qualified Institutional Investor $200
  • All fees must be paid by check or money order.

Local fees will also apply depending on the county/city you plan to operate in. Localities that allow marijuana sales (Excel document). You need a local license as well as a state-level license to operate, so keep in mind that you will need to pursue the relevant local credentials before operating in that area.

Medical Marijuana

These are the classes of medical marijuana businesses, taken directly from colorado.gov:

  • Medical Marijuana Center: license type necessary to operate a business that sells Medical Marijuana to Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry Patients and Transporting Caregivers. Owners of this type of facility must also own and operate at least one Medical Marijuana Cultivation and produce a minimum of 70% of all on-hand inventory as described in section 44-11-402 C.R.S.
  • Medical Marijuana Optional Premises Cultivation: license type necessary operate a cultivation business to grow and harvest Medical Marijuana. There are no Independent Medical Marijuana Optional Premises Cultivation (OPC) Licenses – these facilities must be affiliated with either a Medical Marijuana Center or Infused Product Manufacturer facility as described in section 44-11-403 C.R.S.
  • Medical Marijuana Infused Product Manufacturer: license type necessary to operate a business that produces Medical Marijuana Infused Products such as edibles, concentrates or tinctures. These licensees are only authorized to wholesale their products to MED licensed Medical Marijuana Centers as described in section 44-11-404 C.R.S
  • Medical Marijuana Testing Facility: license type necessary operate a facility that conducts potency and contaminants testing and research for MED Medical Marijuana business licensees as described in section 44-11-405 C.R.S.
  • Medical Marijuana Transporter: license necessary in order to provide transportation and temporary storage services to MED Licensed Medical Marijuana Businesses as described in section 44-11-406 C.R.S.
  • Medical Marijuana Operator: license type necessary in order to provide professional operational services to one or more MED Licensed Medical Marijuana Businesses as described in section 44-11-407 C.R.S.
  • Medical Marijuana Research and Development Facility or Cultivation: license necessary in order to grow, cultivate possess and transfer marijuana for use in research only as described in section 44-11-408 C.R.S.

The Medical Marijuana Business License Application form is used to apply for all of the above license types – you will need to fill out an application form for each license you want to get.

Industrial Hemp

You can register for an Industrial Hemp license using this form.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture, not the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) is the government division that registers and inspects industrial hemp cultivation, meaning there is a different set of rules to abide by. However, recent legislation passed that was designed to make the cultivation and harvest of industrial hemp easier.

Amendment 64, s.16 to the Colorado Constitution defines industrial hemp as “a plant of the genus Cannabis and any part of the plant, whether growing or not, containing a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of no more than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) on a dry weight basis.” Any cannabis plant with THC over 0.3% is considered to be marijuana and not “industrial hemp.” Keep in mind that this is simply a regulatory distinction and is NOT a botanic one.

Industrial Hemp Tips:
  • If you’re interested in industrial hemp, you are probably aware that its cultivation is intensely agricultural, and a profitable grow operation will be larger, in comparison, to that of cannabis meant for medical or recreational consumption.
  • THC levels of Cannabis seeds naturally vary, so sourcing reliable seeds is extremely important to the legality of an industrial hemp operation. Hemp grow operations are randomly sampled by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, and if plants are found with THC levels higher than 0.3%, then you may face fines or a revocation of your growing license.
  • There are no pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, or fungicides currently allowed for use on cannabis, including industrial hemp. These chemicals are regulated on the federal level, and because cannabis cultivation remains federally restricted, you cannot currently obtain permission to use them in an industrial hemp growing operation. Keep this in mind when planning the location and method of cultivation.
  • Federal farm programs (like crop insurance, farm loans, etc.) are managed by the USDA, which is a federal agency. We highly recommend getting legal advice in this territory, as the possibility of participating in these programs could be jeopardized by the cultivation of hemp.
  • Banks are still averse to servicing marijuana cultivators, and this includes industrial hemp growers. A business attorney can help you navigate this obstacle.
  • Finally, you might be surprised by how often a grow operation gets very far in the registration process, only for the owners to realize that the area they planned for the grow was not zoned for that type of activity. Regulations on zoning and hemp cultivation are highly localized (by county) in Colorado, so make sure you know the rules in the area you plan to grow before getting started.

Quick Links:

Tips for a Successful Application

Colorado’s state licensing authority is meticulous about the quality of cannabis-based businesses they want to see in Colorado, to put it mildly. Your application must reflect that your business has been well thought out, planned, and that you have the resources and know-how necessary to run it legally and effectively. Lacking important traits will get your application a flat rejection from the Marijuana Enforcement Division.

The following factors will increase your odds of an accepted application:

Team: “Lone Wolves” are not taken seriously in this business. Any successful operation has a well-rounded team of financial experts, horticulturalists, and business managers who understand how to manage their facilities and employees. You need to demonstrate that your team knows how and is motivated to stay compliant with state regulations.

Local Relevance: Your proposed business needs to be welcome in the jurisdiction you are applying for. Just because it’s legal there doesn’t mean that locals will buy marijuana from you (if you’re opening a retail establishment) or that the locality isn’t already saturated by other cannabis businesses.

Finances: The Colorado marijuana industry is famously lucrative, but the price of admission is high. Having sufficient investments and a solid financial plan are essential to even getting started. Having a dedicated financial team, while not a requirement, is definitely good for the state licensure’s opinion of your potential business. As for starting capital, not counting overhead costs of starting operations, a generally good starting liquid budget (financial cushion, in other words) should be around $250,000. The reason for this is the state does not want to allow financially risky or struggling marijuana businesses to enter a market where they might be tempted to sell products illegally to make higher profits.

Know the Regulations: Demonstrating to the MED that you understand and are up-to-date on the most recent marijuana business laws in Colorado will go a long way to getting your application accepted. Have a Colorado lawyer on retainer whom you can consult before making any decision. State laws and local ordinances change often, and in such a new industry, changes to the law should be expected and accounted for. Be legally prepared for whatever comes—get a lawyer.

Real Estate: Wherever your business will be located, make sure you are prepared for the practical requirements of that location. For example, if you are planning a grow operation with hundreds of plants, make sure you have developed a floor plan for the operation of the indoor grow that is based on real floor plans and accounts for the day-to-day operational requirements that will be needed.

Risky Legal Territory

No matter how well-prepared to break into the Colorado cannabis industry you may find yourself, legal marijuana is still a highly contentious and questionable legal area as of this writing. There are many legal pitfalls and there are even roadblocks built into the system that intentionally make the process of becoming a legitimate marijuana business difficult, and thus, you should NOT proceed without legal counsel.

A Colorado marijuana business lawyer from Robinson & Henry, P.C. can answer your questions and walk you through each step of the process to license and legitimize your marijuana enterprise. A business attorney will also help you stay informed and compliant on new regulations or laws which appear in the years to come, and help you and your company maintain a good relationship with the state licensing authority—maximizing your chances of staying in the business long-term. Proceeding without legal advice is not only ill-advised, but will be looked down upon by the Marijuana Enforcement Division as a source of unpreparedness.

Maximize your chances of a successful application, stay compliant, and see road bumps before they happen with an experienced, capable business lawyer from Robinson & Henry.

Call (303) 688-0944 today for a free legal consultation on how to get your business started.

Licensing your new marijuana business in Colorado is no walk in the park. Get more than just a lawyer for legal advice—get a whole team of legal experts who can answer your every question about opening your Colorado marijuana business. Read Robinson & Henry, P.C.'s legal guide to learn more.