POLITICS

If You Lived In Colorado, You Could Legally Buy And Smoke Weed By Now. Here's How.

03/20/2014 02:36 pm ET | Updated Mar 20, 2014

Curious about legal weed in Colorado, but confused about the new laws and how to best take advantage of them? Well, then according to a new state website launched Thursday, here's everything you need to know about buying, smoking and possessing recreational marijuana in the state, whether you're a tourist or a resident. The website notes that these are just the state laws, and local jurisdictions are allowed to pass their own laws that can be even stricter, so be sure to familiarize yourself with those as well.

Questions and answers appear courtesy of the State of Colorado:

Residents:

How old do I have to be to purchase, possess or consume marijuana?

You must be 21 years old to purchase, possess, or use retail marijuana or marijuana products. It is illegal to give or sell retail marijuana to minors.

Where can I purchase marijuana or other marijuana products?

You can purchase marijuana and related products at licensed retailers approved by the Colorado Department of Revenue and the local municipality. You must present a valid Colorado ID proving you are 21 years old, so be prepared.

How much can I purchase from a marijuana retailer?

Colorado residents 21 years and older can purchase as much as 1 ounce of retail marijuana at a time. Non-residents can purchase 1/4 ounce.

Are there cafes where I can use marijuana like I’ve heard about in Amsterdam?

Not in Colorado. Our laws ban any public use of marijuana products. That includes eating, drinking, vaping or smoking it anywhere the general public can go, which would include any cafes.

Can I smoke or consume pot brownies while in the park with my friends?

Not in Colorado. Again, the law bans all public use of any marijuana product, not just smoking. This means it is illegal to use marijuana in amusement, sporting or music venues, and in parks, playgrounds, sidewalks and roads, marijuana retail businesses and outdoor and rooftop cafes, just to name a few.

So where can I use marijuana?

Private property is your best bet; but again, there could be issues here. Property owners are allowed to ban the use and possession of marijuana on their properties; so if you rent, you may not be able to use marijuana in your home. When using marijuana in your home, keep in mind secondhand smoke, whether from tobacco or marijuana, can be dangerous. Make your home smoke-free to limit your loved ones’ exposure to secondhand smoke.

How much marijuana can I possess or carry around with me?

Adults ages 21 years and older can possess or carry as much as 1 ounce of retail marijuana at a time. Just don’t try to use it in public! Remember, this is one of those areas where some cities are stricter, so be sure you learn what your local government allows.

Can I use while I am cruising around town?

Marijuana is regulated just like alcohol, so think of it like an open container law. Neither drivers nor passengers are allowed to open the marijuana packaging and use the product while in the car.

Can I get a DUI for driving while stoned?

Yes. Colorado passed a law in 2013 that makes it illegal to drive with more than 5 nanograms of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive THC) in your blood.

What about marijuana possession for teens and young adults under age 21?

Marijuana use and possession are illegal for anyone under the age of 21 in Colorado. Retail stores can lose their license for selling marijuana to anyone underage, and adults can be charged with a felony for giving marijuana products to someone underage.

Can I grow my own product?

Adults over age 21 can purchase, possess, grow and transport as many as 6 marijuana plants in an enclosed and locked space, as long as it is not displayed in public and not sold. Only three of the plants can be mature at any one time. If the home has residents under the age of 21, the grow area must be enclosed and locked in a separate space that the minors cannot access.

Can I sell my own product?

Adults over age 21 can give as much as an ounce of marijuana to another adult over age 21, but not sell it. This includes the product you grow yourself. Only licensed growers can sell their product.

Now that it is legal, can I still be drug tested at work?

Despite legalization, employers can still test for marijuana and make employment decisions based on drug tests. Be sure you know your workplace policies before you use.

If I head to a retail marijuana business, can I bring my children in with me?

​No. According to the retail marijuana rules passed by the Department of Revenue, no one under the age of 21 is allowed in the restricted portion of a retail store.

What is with all of the packaging?

Retail and medical marijuana businesses are now required to sell all marijuana products in packaging that is not see-through, resealable, child-resistant and includes the necessary labels and warnings. The packaging is for your protection and the protection of those in your home who may not realize that a brownie is more than it seems.

How will I know if a product contains marijuana?

The Department of Revenue requires that all retail marijuana products use this symbol on packaging. Use of this symbol indicates that the product in the package to which it is affixed contains Retail Marijuana or a product that includes Retail Marijuana or a Retail Marijuana concentrate. It is intended that the symbol will be part of educational programs aimed at children not yet able to read, so that they may be taught to avoid any package on which this symbol is displayed. Additionally, adults unable to read the ingredient label (i.e. non-English speaking) will be made aware of the presences of Retail Marijuana or its concentrates in a product displaying this symbol. This symbol is specific to Retail Marijuana and is not currently mandated for Medical Marijuana or Medical Marijuana products labels.

How is marijuana taxed in Colorado?

Colorado voters passed Proposition AA in November 2013 to add a 10% sales tax on top of the 2.9% standard sales tax rate in Colorado. In addition, a 15% excise tax was added to the wholesale price (between cultivators and businesses). Learn more about the taxes from the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Are there limited hours of operation of retail marijuana businesses?

Yes. Per state rules, retail marijuana businesses can only be open between 8 a.m. and midnight. Again, your municipality may have passed stricter hours of operation, so be sure to check with local laws before you head to a retailer.

Can I take marijuana out of state?

No. It is illegal to leave Colorado with any marijuana products. Additionally, Denver International Airport has chosen to ban the possession, use, display and transfer (giving to another person) of all marijuana on its property.

Visitors:

How old do I have to be to purchase, possess or consume marijuana?

You must be 21 years old to purchase, possess, or use marijuana or marijuana products. It is illegal to give or sell retail marijuana to minors.

Where can I purchase marijuana or other marijuana products?

You can purchase marijuana and related products at licensed retailers approved by the Colorado Department of Revenue and the local municipality.

How much can I purchase from a marijuana retailer?

People who are not Colorado residents are limited to purchasing no more than ¼ ounce of marijuana.

Can I use the product at a cafe or in a local park?

Not in Colorado. The law bans all public use of any marijuana product (not just smoking). This means it is illegal to use marijuana in amusement, sporting or music venues, and at parks, playgrounds, sidewalks and roads, marijuana retail businesses and outdoor and rooftop cafes, just to name a few.

So where can I use marijuana?

Private property is your best bet; but you may not be staying with friends. Property owners are allowed to ban the use and possession of marijuana on their property; so if you are staying in a hotel, you may not be able to use in your room. There are some hotels that allow tobacco smoking, but this does not mean that they will allow marijuana use. Be sure to research the places you will be staying.

How much marijuana can I possess or carry around with me?

Adults ages 21 years and older can possess or carry up to 1 ounce of retail marijuana at a time. Just don’t try to use it in public! Some cities are stricter, so be sure you learn what each city you will be visiting allows.

Can I use while I am cruising around town?

No. Marijuana is regulated just like alcohol, so think of it like an open container law. Neither drivers nor passengers are allowed to open marijuana packaging or use the product while in the car.

Can I get a DUI for driving while stoned?

Yes. Colorado passed a law in 2013 that makes it illegal to drive with more than 5 nanograms of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive THC) in your blood.

What about marijuana possession for teens and young adults under age 21?

Marijuana use and possession are illegal for anyone under the age of 21 in Colorado. Retail stores can lose their licenses for selling marijuana to anyone underage, and adults can be charged with a felony for giving any marijuana products to someone underage.

If I head to a retail marijuana business, can I bring my children in with me?

​No. According to the retail marijuana rules passed by the Department of Revenue, no one under the age of 21 is allowed in the restricted portion of a retail store.

What is with all of the packaging?

Retail and medical marijuana businesses are now required to sell all marijuana products in packaging that is not see-through, resealable, child-resistant and includes the necessary labels and warnings. The packaging is for your protection and the protection of those in your home who may not realize that a brownie is more than it seems.

How will I know if a product contains marijuana?

The Department of Revenue requires that all retail marijuana products use this symbol on packaging. Use of this symbol indicates that the product in the package to which it is affixed contains Retail Marijuana or a product that includes Retail Marijuana or a Retail Marijuana concentrate. It is intended that the symbol will be part of educational programs aimed at children not yet able to read, so that they may be taught to avoid any package on which this symbol is displayed. Additionally, adults unable to read the ingredient label (i.e. non-English speaking) will be made aware of the presences of Retail Marijuana or its concentrates in a product displaying this symbol. This symbol is specific to Retail Marijuana and is not currently mandated for Medical Marijuana or Medical Marijuana products labels.

How is marijuana taxed in Colorado?

Colorado voters passed Proposition AA in November 2013 to add a 10% sales tax on top of the 2.9% standard sales tax rate in Colorado. In addition, a 15% excise tax was added to the wholesale price (between cultivators and businesses). Learn more about the taxes from the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Are there limits on hours of operation for retail marijuana businesses?

Yes. Per state rules, retail marijuana businesses can be open between 8 a.m. and midnight. Again, your municipality may have stricter hours of operation, so be sure to check with local laws before you head to a retailer.

Can I take marijuana home with me?

No. It is illegal to leave Colorado with any marijuana products. Additionally, Denver International Airport bans the possession, use, display and transfer (giving to another person) of all marijuana on its property.

Visit the state's website for more information about applying for a retail marijuana business license, home growing of marijuana, rights of property owners and businesses and much more.

The City of Denver also has an informative website for their local laws, check that out here.

Also on HuffPost:

  • 1 Former President Bill Clinton
    AP
  • Bill "Didn't Inhale" Clinton has supported decriminalizing marijuana for more than a decade and more recently has spoken out against the war on drugs.

    “I think that most small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized in some places, and should be," he said back in 2000 in an interview with Rolling Stone. "We really need a re-examination of our entire policy on imprisonment.”

    He's since spoken about the issue of marijuana and drug prohibition a number of times. Last year, he appeared in the documentary, "Breaking the Taboo," where he argued that the war on drugs has been a failure.
  • 2 Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
    AP
  • Paul exhibited his libertarian tendencies earlier this year when he explained that he'd favor reforming marijuana laws to either decriminalize or reduce penalties for possession.

    “I don't want to promote that but I also don't want to put people in jail who make a mistake," Paul said. "There are a lot of young people who do this and then later on in their twenties they grow up and get married and they quit doing things like this. I don't want to put them in jail and ruin their lives."

  • 3 Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)
  • As a congressman, Paul took his opposition to marijuana and drug prohibition a step farther than his son has so far. He supported a number of bills that would have removed the plant from its current status as a Schedule I substance under federal law, where it is considered alongside heroin and PCP. Because his history on the topic is so expansive, just take a look at the video to the left for a selection of his comments.
  • 4 Evangelist Pat Robertson
    AP
  • While the 83-year-old Robertson may say a lot of things that make him sound like a kooky old man, he's also made a few remarks to endear himself to marijuana advocates.

    "I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol," Robertson said in an interview with The New York Times in 2012. "I've never used marijuana and I don't intend to, but it's just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn't succeeded."

    Robertson has made similar remarks on his "700 Club" show before, but the Times, like many others, perhaps felt they must have misheard him.
  • 5 New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
    Getty Images
  • In a state of the city address earlier this year, Bloomberg made it clear that he supported a promise by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to push marijuana decriminalization. "I support Governor Cuomo's proposal to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a violation, rather than a misdemeanor, and we'll work to help him pass it." A similar effort specific to NYC has made some progress, but faces an unclear path forward with New York lawmakers.
  • 6 Actor Bryan Cranston
    Getty Images
  • Some may think of Cranston as more of a meth guy thanks to Walter White, his character on AMC's hit show "Breaking Bad," but in real life he's spoken out against current pot laws, suggesting that recreational marijuana use isn't a big deal -- and shouldn't be treated like it.

    “[T]o me, marijuana is no different than wine," he said in an interview with High Times. "It's a drug of choice. It's meant to alter your current state -- and that's not a bad thing. It's ridiculous that marijuana is still illegal. We're still fighting for it ... It comes down to individual decision-making. There are millions of people who smoke pot on a social basis and don't become criminals. So stop with that argument -- it doesn't work.”

    [H/T Marijuana Majority]
  • 7 Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (R)
    AP
  • Unlike many politicians, Johnson, a Libertarian presidential candidate in 2012, has unabashedly admitted using marijuana. But beyond his personal history with pot, he's been an outspoken advocate for legalizing and taxing it.

    From his campaign platform:

    "By managing marijuana like alcohol and tobacco - regulating, taxing and enforcing its lawful use - America will be better off. The billions saved on marijuana interdiction, along with the billions captured as legal revenue, can be redirected against the individuals committing real crimes against society."
  • 8 Author Stephen King
    Getty Images
  • King hasn't been shy about advocating for a legal marijuana industry that could give easy access to recreational users and revenue to the states.

    “Marijuana should not only be legal, I think it should be a cottage industry," he said in an interview with High Times. "My wife says, and I agree with her, that what would be really great for Maine would be to legalize dope completely and set up dope stores the way that there are state-run liquor stores.”

    [H/T Marijuana Majority]
  • 9 Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)
    Getty Images
  • Rohrabacher was a co-sponsor of the 2013 "Respect State Marijuana Laws Act," which seeks to protect marijuana users or businesses acting legally according to state marijuana laws from being prosecuted under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

    While marijuana has been made legal for various uses in a number of states, the Obama administration continues to enforce federal laws across the nation. This has led to numerous raids of marijuana-based businesses, as well as prosecutions of growers and other people involved in pot.

  • 10 Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)
    AP
  • Young was also a co-sponsor of the 2013 "Respect State Marijuana Laws Act."
  • 11 Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.)
    Getty Images
  • Amash was also a co-sponsor of the "Respect State Marijuana Laws Act."
  • 12 Glenn Beck
    AP
  • Back in 2009, when Beck had a Fox News show, he suggested that marijuana legalization could be a worthwhile solution to raging drug violence on the nation's border with Mexico.

    "I think it's about time we legalize marijuana," he said. "We have to make a choice in this country. We either put people who are smoking marijuana behind bars or we legalize it, but this little game we're playing in the middle is not helping us, it is not helping Mexico and it is causing massive violence on our southern border."
  • 13 Billionaire Richard Branson
    AP
  • From an op-ed by Branson arguing for an end to the war on drugs:

    "Decriminalization does not result in increased drug use. Portugal's 10 year experiment shows clearly that enough is enough. It is time to end the war on drugs worldwide. We must stop criminalising drug users. Health and treatment should be offered to drug users - not prison. Bad drugs policies affect literally hundreds of thousands of individuals and communities across the world. We need to provide medical help to those that have problematic use - not criminal retribution."
  • 14 GOP Mega-Donor David Koch
    AP
  • Koch may have funneled countless dollars to conservative candidates who oppose reforming marijuana laws, but back in 1980, when he was the vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, he suggested that it was "ridiculous" to consider people who smoked pot "criminals."
  • 15 Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)
    Getty Images
  • In 2010, Perry told Jon Stewart that he believed in a federalist approach to marijuana laws -- that is, to allow states to determine their own approach and to tell the federal government to butt out. He's since suggested he'd be willing to support decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.
  • 16 Comedy Central's Jon Stewart
    Getty Images
  • Stewart has made a habit of taking down politicians who exhibit an uncompromising stance on marijuana prohibition. In 2012, Stewart took New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) to task for vetoing a marijuana decriminalization bill.

    “Alright, as much as I disagree, I don’t think marijuana should be illegal, but it is illegal on the federal level," Stewart began. "Christie is a former prosecutor, a man of conviction, of principle, doesn’t believe that the state should supersede federal law."

    The praise in the second sentence is a good sign that Stewart is about to shred Christie. Watch the rest of his takedown above.
  • 17 Actor Jack Nicholson
    AP
  • In an interview with the UK's Daily Mail in 2011, Nicholson said that he personally still used marijuana, before making the case for ending the prohibition on pot as well as other drugs.

    "I don't tend to say this publicly, but we can see it's a curative thing. The narcotics industry is also enormous. It funds terrorism and - this is a huge problem in America - fuels the foreign gangs," he said. "More than 85 percent of men incarcerated in America are on drug-related offences. It costs $40,000 a year for every prisoner. If they were really serious about the economy there would be a sensible discussion about legalization."
  • 18 Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R)
    AP
  • In a 2013 American Conservative op-ed chock full of moderate Republican views, Huntsman snuck in a call to "applaud states that lead on reforming drug policy."

    While Obama and his administration have responded to state marijuana reforms by saying they must enforce federal laws against marijuana, the president has the power to reschedule the drug, which would allow federal authorities to shift resources away from a prohibitive approach.
  • 19 Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R)
    AP
  • Palin spoke out on marijuana in 2010, saying she didn't support legalizing it but also calling it a "minimal problem" for the nation.

    "However, I think we need to prioritize our law enforcement efforts," Palin said. "If somebody's gonna smoke a joint in their house and not do anybody any harm, then perhaps there are other things our cops should be looking at to engage in and try to clean up some of the other problems we have in society." While Obama has spoken repeatedly about not being interested in prosecuting small-time marijuana users, he hasn't done anything to prevent them from being busted by law enforcement in states where the drug is still illegal.
  • 20 Comedian Jimmy Kimmel
    Getty Images
  • Kimmel notably took a shot at Obama while serving as host of the 2012 White House Correspondents Dinner, questioning a continued marijuana crackdown under the president's administration. He then went on to say that the issue of its continued illegality was a serious political concern for many Americans.

    (Check out the video above.)
  • 21 Former President Jimmy Carter
    Getty Images
  • Carter hasn't minced words in expressing his opposition to harsh marijuana and drug prohibition policies.

    In 2012, the former president said he was fine with state legalization efforts, though he himself doesn't necessary support legalizing the drug.

    “As president 35 years ago I called for decriminalizing -- but not legalizing -- the possession of marijuana,” Carter said. “Since then, U.S. drug policies have been very horrible to our own country because of an explosion in prison populations.”
  • 22 Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
    AP
  • A staunch conservative who failed in a run for the U.S. Senate last year, Cuccinelli suggested in 2013 that he was "evolving" on marijuana legalization, and that he supported the rights of states to determine their own pot laws.

    "I don't have a problem with states experimenting with this sort of thing I think that's the role of states," Cuccinelli said, according to Ryan Nobles of WWBT.
  • 23 Columnist Dan Savage
    AP
  • Savage slammed Obama for perpetuating the war on drugs while on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" in 2009.

    “The proof will be in the policy. The war on drugs has gotten a really bad rap, when you ask people if they support the war on drugs they say no ... [Obama's] budget once again has the same old drug warrior policy ... I reject the assumption that everybody who is using drugs needs treatment or is an addict and needs to get arrested ... Not all drug use is abuse.”

    He's kept up the fight for drug policy reform since.

    [H/T Marijuana Majority]
  • 24 MSNBC's Al Sharpton
    Getty Images
  • Sharpton has repeatedly spoken out in favor of reforming drug laws. In 2011, he suggested that the nation had wasted trillions of dollars in an ill-fated effort that had weighed particularly heavily on the African American community.

    “We've been fighting the war on drugs since the '60s. And guess what? Trillions of dollars later, we are losing," Sharpton said during a segment on MSNBC. "When you look at the disparities in sentencing drug offenders, hasn't this kind of injustice undermined the legitimacy of our criminal justice system?”

    [H/T Marijuana Majority]
  • 25 Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.)
    AP
  • Tancredo came out aggressively in favor of reforming marijuana laws in 2010, telling the Colorado Independent that the correct path forward was "Legalize it. Regulate it. Tax it."

    Tancredo continued, “The arguments against marijuana today are the same as the arguments against liquor years ago.”

    Years later, the former congressman agreed to smoke pot on camera with a documentary filmmaker, a deal that he later backed out of.
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