Is Cannabis Legal in Colorado?

Weed is legal both recreationally and medically in Colorado, meaning that any adult aged 21 or older can buy and possess up to two ounces.

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Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson is the senior editor at CBD Oracle, and has been covering science, vaping and cannabis for over 10 years. He has a MS in Theoretical Physics from Uppsala...

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Marijuana legality in Colorado
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Key Takeaways

  • Recreational weed is legal in Colorado. Adults aged 21 or older can have up to 2 ounces.
  • If you have more than two ounces but less than 6, you could get a fine of up to $700 (minimum $50) and even possibly jail time.
  • Medical marijuana is legal in Colorado, but the limits are similar to the recreational use limits in most cases.

Weed is legal for both recreational and medical purposes in Colorado.

Any adult aged 21 or over can possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana completely legally, and the medical program has the same limit.

You can also grow up to 6 plants in either case, with 3 of them flowering.

Despite these quite straightforward Colorado marijuana laws, there are a few specific parts that are worth paying extra attention to so you don’t end up in trouble.

Weed is totally legal in Colorado, with any adult aged 21 or over being allowed to possess and use up to 2 ounces of marijuana without punishment.

Weed is legal for recreational use in Colorado.

It was one of the first states to legalize cannabis in 2012, when the state passed Amendment 64. This made it legal for adults aged 21 or over to possess, use, and transfer (without payment) up to an ounce of marijuana (page 4, line 18). It also set up a system for growers and dispensaries in the state.

The 2-ounce limit was increased by HB 1090 in 2021, which set the new limit for possession at 2 ounces.

Additionally, prior to this (in 2019), the legislature also passed HB 1230. This allowed for the creation of marijuana lounges, tasting rooms, and other hospitality businesses.

In short, the recreational weed law in Colorado is one of the oldest and best in the country.

Penalties for Excess Possession

Despite Colorado weed laws allowing any adult to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana, there are still punishments if you possess larger amounts than this.

These punishments are mild in comparison to many states, but may surprise you if you’re thinking that legal weed means little to no consequences:

  • For amounts between 2 and 6 ounces, it’s a level 2 drug misdemeanor, and the punishment is up to a year in jail (although no minimum) and a fine of up to $700 (minimum $50).
  • For more than 6 ounces, it’s a level 1 drug misdemeanor, punishable by between 6 and 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Medical marijuana is legal in Colorado, following the passage of Initiative 20 in 2000.

This legalized the medical use of marijuana and created a system for obtaining an ID card for the program, as well as establishing a list of debilitating medical conditions for which you can use cannabis.

The system basically works like most of those in the country, although the medical and recreational laws have since been combined into an overall Colorado Marijuana Code.

Medical Patient Possession Limits

Medical marijuana patients can possess up to 2 ounces of useable marijuana unless their physician specifically recommends they need a larger amount.

Since Colorado weed legalization passed, the standard amount of marijuana is the same regardless of whether or not you’re a medical patient, but as a medical patient, it is technically possible (though admittedly not likely) that you could legally possess more.  

Getting a Medical Marijuana Card

The process for getting a medical marijuana card in Colorado is basically the same as it is in most states.

First, you have to visit a licensed healthcare provider in the state and receive a diagnosis of one of the qualifying conditions. These include:

  • Any condition for which a physician could prescribe an opioid
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic nervous system disorders
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Nausea
  • Persistent Muscle Spasms
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizures

If you get diagnosed and get your provider certification to use medical marijuana, then you can submit an application to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, along with a copy of your Colorado ID or driver’s license, the completed application, and a $29.50 fee.

Your application will be processed and then you can either print or just display your card on your cell phone when it’s ready.

Can You Consume in Public?

Although you can legally use cannabis in Colorado, you can’t consume it in public. This includes vapes and edibles as well as smoking.

As mentioned earlier, there are hospitality businesses where you can legally consume marijuana, but outside of that, you have to be in a private place with the permission of the owner.

If you’re found breaking this rule – provided you don’t have more than the legally permitted amount – you’ll receive a fine of up to $100.

Can You Drive Under the Influence of Marijuana in Colorado?

You can’t drive under the influence of marijuana in Colorado, just like you can’t in any state.

However, Colorado is one of the only states to have defined a specific limit similar to alcohol: 5 ng/ml of THC in the blood counts as impairment with cannabis.

Being a medical user is not a defense against this, and you’re also not allowed to have an “open container” of marijuana in the car when you drive.

Finally, there’s an implied consent law in the state, so you’ve already effectively agreed to testing by operating a car on the roads.

If you’re found to have been driving under the influence of marijuana in Colorado, the punishments are:

  • If you’re found to be driving while “ability impaired,” meaning being impaired after consuming weed but not beyond the 5 ng/ml cutoff, there are still punishments. You’ll get between 2 and 180 days in county jail, a fine of between $200 and $500, 24 to 48 hours of useful public service, and probation for up to two years.
  • If you’re actually impaired, in the first case, the punishments are pretty similar to the above, except with larger amounts. So you have a mandatory minimum of 5 days in jail, up to a year, a fine of between $600 and $1,000, between 48 and 96 hours of useful public service, and probation for up to two years.
  • For a second offense, the distinction between ability impaired and legally impaired is removed. So you’ll receive between 10 days and a year in county jail, a fine of between $600 and $1,500, between 48 and 120 hours of useful public service, and probation for up to two years.
  • For a third or subsequent offense, the mandatory minimum county jail sentence increases to 60 (consecutive) days, up to a year, the fine, public service, and probation are as for a second offense, and you also have to participate in a drug and alcohol driving safety education and treatment program.

Delta-8 THC is not legal in Colorado.

Although SB 220 legalized hemp in line with the Farm Bill in 2019, a notice from the Marijuana Enforcement Division in 2021 argued that this definition does not include modifications or conversions from natural components.

Since almost all delta-8 is made this way, it is de facto illegal in Colorado.

However, after HB 1263 passed, it’s likely that the only punishment people will receive would be a small fine unless you have over a few ounces.  

RELATED: Where Is Delta-8 THC Legal? A State-by-State Map

Is Weed Decriminalized in Colorado?

Weed is legal in Colorado, so decriminalization isn’t much of an issue anymore.

For amounts up to 6 ounces, it’s possible that you only receive a fine, but this isn’t the same as Colorado decriminalizing weed, since it’s still a crime.

However, since adults aged 21 or over can have up to 2 ounces, it’s really further than decriminalization would ever go anyway.

Growing weed is legal in Colorado for any adult aged 21 or over.

The basic rule is that any Colorado resident aged 21 or over can have up to six plants, three of which are flowering.

However, many places have specific rules, such as in Denver, where the limit per household is 12 plants (6 flowering), even if there are more than two adults in the house.

You also generally need to make sure minors can’t get access to your plants (in any case, but especially if you live with minors) and they can’t be seen by the public.


Colorado’s weed laws are some of the best in the country. Not only do they have a limit of 2 ounces for any adult aged 21 or over, but you can grow at home, there is a medical program, the drug driving law isn’t zero tolerance and they even allow on-site consumption at some places.

While you may be surprised that delta-8 is basically illegal, for example, overall the rules are about as permissive as you’ll find anywhere in the country. If you’re a stoner looking for a state to visit or move to, Colorado should be high on the list.