Legalized Marijuana in Colorado

How to Purchase

On January 1, 2014, Colorado became the first state to allow legal recreational marijuana sales for any purpose to anyone over 21. Purchasing marijuana in Colorado at a licensed recreational shop is as simple as walking into the store, showing your ID, and buying it in the desired form. Dispensaries are medical-only, however, and require a doctor-issued medical card for entry, while some buildings are designated as offering medical and recreational.

The amount a person is legally allowed to purchase is dependent on residency; Colorado residents with a valid ID may buy up to one ounce of marijuana per day, while those with an out-of-state ID may purchase a quarter ounce of marijuana. No personal information is collected, and your ID is used only for proof of age and residency.

Recreational marijuana stores are located in cities and towns around the state, but the vast majority of the licenses are held in Denver. Some cities, such as Colorado Springs, have banned recreational stores. In addition, many cities limit store hours (in Denver, for instance, they can’t be open past 7 pm). Call ahead to find out if a shop takes credit or debit cards, as many are still cash-only. The Denver Post’s The Cannabist and the weekly Westword publish online guides that list shops, as well as reviews and information on the latest marijuana products.

Where to Consume

Where to smoke marijuana is considerably more restricted. Marijuana products cannot be consumed on-site at a retail outlet, nor can it be smoked in public spaces, including ski areas or national parks (both of which are on federal lands, where getting caught can result in jail time or hefty fines, as marijuana possession is still illegal under federal law). Under Colorado's Clean Indoor Air Act, pot smoking is banned anywhere that cigarette smoking is also banned. A handful of private cannabis clubs have opened with membership fees, and some hotels advertise as "cannabis-friendly," meaning they allow consumption in designated smoking areas on-property. References to "420"—a once-obscure, insider allusion to all things marijuana-related—are meant as an indication of an establishment's openness to assisting clientele in procurement or consumption.

You can drive legally while possessing marijuana in a vehicle the same way you can with alcohol: It needs to be sealed. Driving stoned is against the law, and legal limits have been established for the amount of THC a driver can have in his or her system. Taking marijuana on a plane is illegal, as is transporting it to another state, even to a state where it’s also legal.

Several tour groups offer marijuana-based services that include airport transfers, tours of marijuana-growing operations, transport to recreational shops, and enough time in party-style buses to smoke, consume edible marijuana products and visit local eateries, explore museums and other cultural events, and then get dropped off for a stay at a "cannabis-friendly" hotel.

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