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Colorado was one of the first states to legalize recreational cannabis. Over the years, the Centennial State has become one of the top states for cannabis jobs and business, right behind California, the world’s biggest cannabis market.

To use, buy, or sell recreational cannabis in Colorado, you must understand the latest state and local rules and regulations. Here, we break down Colorado recreational cannabis laws as of 2022.

Colorado Recreational Cannabis Laws

You must be 21 or older and have a valid ID to buy and sell retail cannabis.

Possession

  • Medical: Up to 2 oz flower
  • Recreational: Up to 1 oz flower or its equivalent in concentrate or other product

Distribution

  • Medical: From caregiver to patient and at retail outlets
  • Recreational: Can give away up to 2 oz and purchase at retail outlets

Cultivation

  • Medical: 6 plants, up to 12 plants per household; If local law allows, patients and caregivers can grow up to 24 plants if registered with the MED and provide any required notice to the local jurisdictions.
  • Recreational: 6 plants, up to 12 plants per household

Unlawful

  • Public consumption: Petty drug offense
  • Driving under the influence: DUI
  • Possession of 2 to 12 oz of flower or 1 to 3 oz of concentrate: Misdemeanor
  • Possession of more than 12 oz of flower or 3 oz of concentrate: Felony
  • Sale or distribution of less than 4 oz of flower or 2 oz of concentrate: Misdemeanor
  • Sale or distribution of more than 4 oz or to a minor: Felony
  • Cultivation of more than 12 plants: Petty drug offense
  • Cultivation, second offense: Misdemeanor
  • Cultivation of more than 24 plants: Felony

Where Can I Use Cannabis?

Public cannabis use (smoking, vaping, or eating) is prohibited. Since cannabis is still federally illegal, cannabis consumption on federal land, including national forests and parks, is illegal.

The only place you can consume cannabis is on private property. Remember that property owners can ban cannabis use and possession on their property. For example, an apartment or hotel owner can ban cannabis possession and use on their property.  

Before moving into an apartment or staying in a hotel room in Colorado, research their policies on cannabis use.

Can I Get Drug Tested for Cannabis?

Despite Colorado's passing of recreational cannabis laws in 2012, employers can still drug test prospective employees. Research your workplace policies before using cannabis. Federal employees are not allowed to use cannabis.

How Do I Buy Cannabis and What Should I Expect at a Dispensary?

Adults over 21 can purchase retail cannabis by presenting a valid ID at a licensed dispensary. No one under 21 years of age will be allowed in the restricted portion of a dispensary.

Hours of Operation

Retail cannabis businesses can open only between 8 a.m. and midnight. However, municipalities can limit the hours of operation.

Packaging Requirements

When you buy cannabis from retail or medical cannabis businesses, it must come packaged in a resealable, child-resistant, and opaque container.

Labeling Requirements

The Department of Revenue requires retail cannabis products to use the THC warning symbol on packaging to prevent kids and adults from unintentionally consuming the product.

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Cannabis Taxes

You must pay a 15% retail sales tax when purchasing cannabis. A 15% excise task is added to the wholesale price of retail cannabis, which cultivators and businesses must pay. Medical cannabis does not require these taxes. 

What Are Colorado’s Home Grow Laws?

Adults in Colorado can grow up to six plants (up to 3 flowering plants) in their own homes for personal use. However, counties and municipalities can adopt stricter regulations. For example, Denver limits 12 plants per household regardless of the number of adults living there.

Cannabis plants must be kept in an enclosed, locked area that is not visible to the public view. This means you can't grow outdoor cannabis. If minors under 21 live in the residence, the cannabis grow area must be in a separate space that minors can't access. 

Driving and Traveling

mountains and greenery, colorado recreational cannabis laws in 2016

Consuming cannabis before driving can land you a driving under the influence (DUI) charge. Under state law, drivers with 5 nanograms of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter of whole blood can be charged with a DUI.

If you have an open cannabis container in a vehicle and it looks like the product has been consumed, you may be charged with a traffic offense, even if the car is not moving.

If you are visiting Colorado or intend to travel outside the state, remember that leaving the state with cannabis products is prohibited. In addition, you can't bring cannabis to Denver International Airport or any airport in the state. 

Can I Work in the Cannabis Industry?

If you want to find a cannabis job in the Colorado cannabis industry, you must be 21 or older, be a resident of Colorado, and pass a criminal background check. 

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Check out our blog post on how to work in a Colorado dispensary.

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