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State Regulations

The Legal Status of Cannabis in Colorado

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Cannabis is legal in Colorado for both medical and recreational use. On November 7, 2000, 54% of voters in Colorado approved Amendment 20 which permitted the use of cannabis by patients with qualifying conditions.

Patients under this law may possess not more than 2 oz (57 g) of medical cannabis as well as cultivate up to six marijuana plants (three mature flowering plants consecutively). However, Patients who have more than this in their possession could claim “affirmative defense of medical necessity” but remain unprotected under state law. Additionally, a doctor could recommend more depending on the patient’s particular needs.

Conditions that qualify for medical marijuana use in Colorado include:

  • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome (severe weight loss caused by a medical condition or its treatment)
  • Cancer
  • Nausea
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Chronic pain
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe pain
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Patients are not allowed to use medical cannabis in public places or in a manner that is likely to endanger others.

In the state of Colorado, cannabis is legal for both medical and recreational use. Though medical cannabis became legal in 2000, it was not until 2021 that recreational marijuana got signed into law.

Colorado became the second state to legalize cannabis when voters approved Colorado Amendment 64. This amendment legalized both the sale and the possession of cannabis for non-medical purposes. It was at the forefront of legal retail sales.

Prohibition (1917) (1929) and (1937): Colorado restricted cannabis as far back as 1917 making its cultivation and use a misdemeanor punishable by a fine f between $10-$100 or up to one month in jail. In 1929, a law was passed by the Colorado Legislature making a second offense of possessing, selling, or distribution of cannabis a felony punishable by 1-5 years imprisonment.

Decriminalization (1975): A short-lived wave of decriminalization swept the country which swept Colorado into decriminalizing the possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis in 1975. This decriminalizing also meant that possession became a petty offense attracting smaller fines and no jail time.

Legalization of Recreational marijuana (2012): The enactment of Colorado Amendment 64 that took place in November 2012 allowed adults of age 21 years or older to:

  • Grow privately or in a locked space with up to six cannabis plants (ensuring that only half the number are flowering at a time)
  • Legally use the parts of the marijuana plants they grow (providing that it stays in the area it was grown in)
  • Legally have on their person marijuana amounts not exceeding 1 ounce (28 g) while traveling.
  • Possess up to 8 grams (1⁄4) edibles/retail concentrates which is equal to an ounce (28 g) of cannabis flower.
  • Give up to1ounce (28 g) of marijuana to other citizens who are 21 years or older.

The consumption of marijuana was to be treated like the consumption of alcohol with similar punishments for such offenses as driving under the influence. Recently, Public consumption was passed in Denver by a 53% vote of Ordinance 300.

Amendment 64 also provided for licensing of growing facilities and product manufacturing facilities as well as retail stores and testing facilities. Tourists and visitors are allowed to purchase and use marijuana in Colorado though they could get prosecuted if caught within in neighboring states.

On May 28, 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed a number of bills into law implementing some recommendations made by the task force some of which affected the growing, retailing, and use of recreational marijuana.

2014, which was the first year Colorado Amendment 64 was implemented, saw both the medical and recreational markets catapulting to $700 million in sales. This growth however flattened with time.


Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.