Colorado Cannabis Laws & Regulations

state of Colorado
Updated March 1st, 2023

Weed Laws in Colorado

Colorado is located in the heart of the West, just past the Great Plains and north of southwestern states like Arizona and New Mexico. In addition to AZ and NM, Colorado shares borders with Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. The state, which gets its name from the Colorado river, is home to around 6 million people, making it the 21st most populated state in the US. Colorado owes its statehood in large part to the Civil War. The Union first made the state a US territory to gain access to the abundant natural resources in the Rocky Mountains during the war. In 1876, just following the Civil War, Colorado became the 38th state.

Colorado is a state known for its outdoor attractions and natural beauty. The state is a popular ski destination, thanks to the Rocky Mountains, but that’s not all you’ll find in Colorado. Colorado is home to the Great Sand Dunes, Pike’s Peak, Garden of the Gods, Maroon Bells, Mesa Verde National Park, and of course, Vail Ski Resort, and Breckenridge Ski Resort.

Colorado’s cannabis fame goes back to the earliest days of legalization. The state gained a considerable amount of fame and notoriety for being one of the first states to legalize, largely because its program was so successful it’s still used as an example for states looking to spin up programs of their own. 

Colorado mountain town

Is Weed Legal in Colorado?

YES. Adults aged 21 and over can legally purchase and possess marijuana for medicinal or recreational use in Colorado.

Weed Legalization in Colorado

Colorado was famously one of the first states to legalize cannabis, but the state’s history with the plant goes back even further.

Colorado outlawed cannabis in the first half of the 20th century like most states. However, it didn’t take nearly as long for Colorado to reconsider that decision. In 1975, the state decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of cannabis. That decriminalization remained in place until 2010 when the amount was expanded to 2 ounces. 

In 2000, Colorado put Initiative 20 on the ballot, giving its citizens the option to legalize medical marijuana. The initiative passed, becoming Colorado Amendment 20, and the state became one of the first in the US to legalize medical cannabis.

Then, in 2012, Colorado was set to make history again. 2012 Initiative 30 put the question of recreational cannabis to a vote. The people of Colorado overwhelmingly approved, and Colorado once again blazed a trail for cannabis reform. The initiative became Colorado Amendment 64 and wrote cannabis legalization into the state constitution. Today, Colorado’s cannabis program is considered one of the most successful in the nation.

As of 2022, the consumption of cannabis is legal for medicinal and recreational use in the state of Colorado.

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Cannabis Tax in Colorado

The states levies a 17.9% tax on marijuana purchases, which covers:

  • Retail tax - 15%
  • State sales tax - 2.9%

The states levies a 2.9% tax on medical marijuana purchases. Local governments may charge additional taxes.

The state also charges a 15% excise tax on the first sale of cannabis to a retailer or processor.

10% of the retail tax goes directly to the local government where cannabis was sold. The 15% excise tax goes to Colorado’s schools.

Is Cannabis Delivery Available in Colorado?

YES. Adults aged 21 and over can legally order marijuana delivery for medicinal or recreational use in Colorado. However, delivery is only permitted in jurisdictions that allow it.

state of Colorado

Where Can You Legally Use Weed in Colorado?

Cannabis can be legally used in the following areas in Colorado:

🗹 Private properties such as residences

🗹 Businesses with a commercial cannabis consumption license

Cannabis CANNOT be consumed in:

X Public spaces

X Businesses that lack a license for commercial cannabis consumption

X Motorized vehicles in motion, for both driver and passengers

X Federal land, like national parks

What are the Restrictions on Cannabis Possession in Colorado?

Adults aged 21 and above may purchase and possess up to:

  • Cannabis:  1 ounce / 28.35 grams
  • Cannabis concentrates: 0.28 ounces / 8 grams

Adults aged 21 possess up to in their homes:

  • Cannabis:  2 ounces / 56.70 grams
  • Cannabis concentrates: 0.56 ounces / 16 grams

For transfer to another adult:

  • Dried cannabis:  2 ounces / 56.70 grams
  • Cannabis concentrates: 0.56 ounces / 16 grams

Non-edible, non-psychoactive retail marijuana products including ointments, lotions, balms, and other non-transdermal topical products are exempt from the one-ounce quantity limit on transfers.

For the state’s home cultivation program:

  • Maximum # of mature plants: 3
  • Maximum # of immature plants: 3

For medicinal use:

  • Dried cannabis:  2 ounces / 56.70 grams
  • Cannabis concentrates: 0.28 ounces / 8 grams

For medicinal patients 18 to 20 years old:

  • Dried cannabis: 2 ounces
  • Cannabis concentrated: 2 grams

*Patients under 21 must be diagnosed by two physicians, are subject to smaller concentrate limits, and must be re-evaluated every six months.

Explanation of Colorado cannabis equivalency units:

There is confusion as to how much cannabis concentrate can be possessed in Colorado. The state uses statutorily-established equivalency units to determine how much concentrate you can possess, or how much you can purchase and possess in edibles and other types of products.

For all other retail marijuana products or retail marijuana concentrate, the following equivalency applies for the one-ounce quantity transfer limit:

a. One ounce of retail marijuana flower shall be equivalent to eight grams of retail marijuana concentrate. 

b. One ounce of retail marijuana flower shall be equivalent to 80 ten-milligram servings of THC in retail marijuana product.

During vehicular transportation:

  • Cannabis may either be in a sealed container or
  • Stored in the trunk of the vehicle
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Frequently Asked Questions About Marijuana in Colorado

How much does it cost to get a medical cannabis card in Colorado?

The medical cannabis application fee in Colorado is $29.50.

How long is a medical cannabis card valid in Colorado?

Medical cannabis cards are valid for anywhere between 60 days and 1 year. The expiration date is determined by the evaluating physician.

How often do I need to be evaluated by my doctor for medical cannabis in Colorado?

Generally, you’ll need to be evaluated once per year, but it could be sooner if your card expires before a year. You’ll need to be evaluated every time you renew your card.

Can I renew my card before it expires in Colorado?

Yes. You can renew your card up to 30 days before it expires in Colorado.

What types of medical cannabis are available in Colorado?

Colorado has put few restrictions on what types of cannabis are available. You can find everything from flower to concentrates and edibles in Colorado.

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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