Colorado Cannabis Laws

Is Cannabis Legal In Colorado?
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Colorado Law: 

StateRecreationalMedical MarijuanaCBD

Federal Law:

Recreational Medical MarijuanaCBD

Is recreational cannabis legal in Colorado?

Yes. Colorado is one of the most progressive states when it comes to cannabis legislation. Colorado voters in 2012 approved Amendment 64, which allows adults over 21 years of age to possess, cultivate, and purchase recreational cannabis. 

Under this law, adults of legal age can:

  • Grow up to six plants at a time, stored privately 
  • Possess up to 1 oz while traveling
  • Gift up to 1 oz to other of age citizens 

Cannabis tourism has become a large part of the state economy since Colorado was one of the first states to allow testing, cultivation, and retail purchases. The Colorado recreational market has sold $10 billion worth of legal weed since 2014

While visiting, it’s important to note all tourists of legal age may possess and consume the lawful amount but will face prosecution if products are passed to adjacent states. 

Recently, public consumption of cannabis was voted into Colorado law and is expected to follow general alcohol consumption rules and regulations. 

Is Medical Marijuana legal in Colorado?

Yes. Amendment 20, passed in 2000, allows patients with written approval from their physicians can possess up to 2 oz and cultivate six plants. Legal access to medical marijuana is also expanded to minors with their parental guardian’s consent. 

In 2016 with the signing of Jack’s Law, Colorado schools are required to allow students access to medical marijuana while on school property. 

Are CBD products legal in Colorado? 

Yes. Since the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law in the United States; as long as they contain at most 0.3% THC. 

Any and all CBD in food and drink is still federally illegal.

What’s Colorado’s recreational cannabis sales tax? 

15%. This is the retail cannabis tax for recreational products charged on top of the consumer purchase price.

What’s Colorado’s medical marijuana sales tax?

With exceptions, medical marijuana is subject to the general 2.9% state sales tax and can have additional local and district taxes applied. If a medical marijuana patient has a tax-exempt status on their patient ID card, they won’t have to pay the extra tax.

Are there any other Colorado cannabis tax rates?

Yes. State Excise Tax on Retail sales: 10% 

Is cannabis delivery legal in Colorado?

Yes, for medical marijuana. The state’s only two marijuana businesses permitted to deliver are to registered medical marijuana patients. 

Yet, not for long. Commercial cannabis delivery was legalized in 2019 but has not gone into effect yet. The state is hopeful for recreational delivery to start in 2021 as pilot programs have been successful. The Aurora city council recently approved a proposal to legalize cannabis delivery, which would make it the first locale in the state to do so. With the pandemic still looming, pressures to legalize delivery throughout the state are mounting. 

It’s important to note local governments can still ban cannabis delivery if they choose, and they must officially opt-in before commercial delivery services can begin.

Colorado’s Cannabis Timeline:

1917: Colorado starts cannabis prohibition

1937: The Marihuana (archaic spelling of Marijuana) Tax Act was enacted banning cannabis at the federal level. Medical Marijuana use was still permitted.

1951: The Boggs Act, Sponsored by Hale Boggs and signed into law under President Harry S. Truman, This act set mandatory sentencing and increased punishment for cannabis possession. 

1969: The Marihuana Tax Act is deemed unconstitutional in the landmark Leary v. United States. Timothy Leary, a professor, and activist was arrested for the possession of marijuana in violation of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. Leary then challenged the act on the ground that the act required self-incrimination, which violated his Fifth Amendment rights. (The self-incrimination clause provides various protections against self-incrimination, including the right of an individual to not serve as a witness in a criminal case in which they are the defendant, better known as “Pleading the Fifth”.) The unanimous opinion of the court was penned by Justice John Marshall Harlan II and declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional. Therefore, Leary’s conviction was overturned.

1970: The Controlled Substances Act is enacted (replacing the unconstitutional Marihuana Tax Act). Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, thereby prohibiting its use for any purpose. This act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. 

This legislation created five classifications, with specific qualifications for a substance to be included in each. The substances scheduling (classification) are determined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yet, Congress does have the power to schedule or de-schedule substances through legislation. Substance scheduling decisions are based on its potential for abuse, accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and international treaties.

Classification of Controlled Substances:

Schedule I: High potential of abuse, not acceptable for medical use

Schedule II: High potential of abuse, sometimes allowed with “severe restrictions” for medical use

Schedule II: Medium potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

Schedule IV: Moderate potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

Schedule V: Lowest potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

1984-1986: Mandatory Sentencing and the three-strikes law were created under the Reagan Administration. This accounts for some of the harshest drug laws created including mandatory 25-year imprisonment for certain drug offenses and the promotion of the death penalty to be used against “drug kingpins”.

1998: House Joint Resolution 117, encouraged by the passing of California’s Prop 215, the House of Representatives passed this measure to support the existing Federal legal process for determining the safety and efficacy of certain drugs. 

2000: Colorado Amendment 20 amended the State Constitution to allow the use of marijuana in the state for approved patients with written medical consent

2012: Colorado Amendment 64, Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, which legalizes marijuana possession for adults under state law and requires the state to establish a regulatory structure for retail marijuana.

2014: The Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment passed in the U.S. House and signed into law prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.

2016: Jack’s Law, Jack Splitt was a cerebral palsy patient and medical marijuana advocate who lobbied for student cannabis use on school grounds. He sadly passed away from his health complications the summer the law was passed. Yet, with the signing of Jack’s Law in 2016, Colorado school districts have the authority to write policies for where on-campus medical marijuana treatments can take place and what forms of cannabis can be administered. If a school district does not create a policy, parents and private caregivers have no limitations on where they can administer the treatment. 

2018: Farm bill legalizes low-THC hemp nationwide and effectively de-schedules hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act.

2019: Governor Jared Polis signed a law allowing licensed recreational cannabis businesses to have social use areas. 

2021: The Colorado recreational market has sold $10 billion worth of legal weed since 2014

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