The United States’ Pot Paradise
Colorado is often known in the United States as the country’s pot capital of the world as it was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. Colorado is both highly-regarded by those who see no harm in recreational weed enjoyment and highly criticized by those who remain in opposition to the legal use of the drug. The legalization of pot for recreational use in Colorado has sparked a movement of other states following in its footsteps. Since Colorado’s legalization in 2014, ten other states have done the same. These states include California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Alaska, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine. Recreational marijuana has also been legalized in the country’s capital, Washington D.C. According to these trends, more states continue to agree with Colorado’s assessment of the relative harmlessness of marijuana when used in moderation.
Though recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, it doesn’t mean that there is a complete lack of rules regarding pot possession. Only adults aged 21 and older are allowed to possess marijuana. Furthermore, the legal amount to have at any time is one ounce, though the actual amendment specifies that possession should be limited to an ounce of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical responsible for the psychological effects of marijuana). Those with medical marijuana cards may possess up to two ounces of marijuana at any time. There are no specific restrictions on the form that the recreational marijuana in possession takes; you can have various concentrates, edibles, topicals, etc. In order to purchase and possess pot, you have to have some form of government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or passport to prove that you are of legal age. Additionally, you don’t have to be a Colorado resident to possess recreational marijuana in the state because there currently isn’t an existing registration system.
Who Can Buy and Who Can Sell?
Cannabis is also regulated in terms of who can purchase and distribute the drug in Colorado. Currently, both Colorado residents and tourists are allowed to purchase up to 28 grams of weed in one transaction. As previously stated, you must be 21 years or older to be able to purchase weed and you must buy weed from a licensed source, like a dispensary. It is currently illegal in Colorado to purchase pot from an unlicensed source. Moreover, not all dispensaries sell recreational marijuana as there are many that cater only to those purchasing marijuana for medical purposes.
Considering all of the laws that still limit the consumption and possession of marijuana, there are corresponding punishments for disregarding the rules and illegally using the drug. The use of marijuana in public settings may result in tickets or fines. There are also similar penalties for possession of recreational marijuana exceeding the allowed one ounce:
- Possession of more than one ounce but no more than two: subject to a conviction for a petty drug offense fineable for up to $100.
- Possession of more than two but no more than six ounces: subject to a level two drug misdemeanor fineable for up to $750, a year in jail, or both.
- Possession of more than six but no more than 12 ounces: level one drug misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in jail, a fine up to $5,000, or both.
- Possession of more than 12 ounces: subject to a conviction for a level four drug felony punishable by up to one year in jail, fines up to $100,000, or both.
Needless to say, recreational marijuana use does not go without due punishment for infractions of its fairly liberal laws. There are also multiple penalties of varying degrees for those that break laws regarding sales and distribution of weed, as well as manufacturing laws. These tend to be more severe.
**Other Laws **
Aside from the basic laws of who can buy, sell, and possess marijuana in Colorado, there are additional rules about how and where marijuana is consumed. For instance, there are specific guidelines to follow regarding marijuana possession in a car.
Marijuana is allowed to be transported in cars and other vehicles, but it must be in a completely sealed container and cannot be carried over state lines. This includes flying out of Colorado with marijuana, as most Colorado airports have strict rules prohibiting the possession, use, display, and transfer of weed in and around the property. Moreover, it is illegal to smoke or otherwise consume pot in a car. Additionally, just as you cannot drink and drive, you cannot smoke and drive. The legal limit for driving high is 5 nanograms or less of delta 9-THC per milliliter of blood. Anybody caught driving with more than this amount in their blood is subject to arrest for driving under the influence.
The use of recreational marijuana in public is still illegal in Colorado despite possession being allowed. Consuming pot in any way, whether by smoking, vaping, or eating, is illegal. This includes places like parks and amusement parks, concert venues, restaurants, and other shared spaces. You also cannot use marijuana on federally protected land, such as national parks and forests. Though you may use on private property, property owners of apartments, hotels, or rental homes reserve the right to ban marijuana from their premises.
What about how recreational marijuana might affect one’s career? Is that the same in Colorado? Though Colorado is considered a liberal state when it comes to the use of weed, employers are still allowed to administer drug tests and make decisions for their company based on their own discretion. Therefore, though pot is legal in Colorado, it still may not be completely socially acceptable.
With the unusual leeway provided to Colorado residents in terms of using the drug, it has prompted the inclusion of pot use in various activities. For instance, many companies have seen the value of incorporating weed with other every day hobbies, such as painting. Other businesses offer classes that include pottery, pincushion, and cooking while high. It seems that people have taken notice of both the creative inspiration and the craving for food that weed can elicit. Furthermore, marijuana has been incorporated into Colorado’s tourist attractions as multiple cannabis producers offer tours of their greenhouses that offer cannabis connoisseurs a chance to see how their favorite plant is cultivated. Pot is also being recognized for its potentially relaxing qualities as some businesses in Colorado are incorporating recreational marijuana with pampering products, massages, and physical therapy.
With the cannabis craze taking over, more tourists have also been attracted to Colorado to check out its distinct cannabis centered culture, unlike anywhere else in the United States. There are many weed-friendly hotels and Airbnbs that have popped up all over Colorado, offering safe spaces for tokers. Also, there are plenty of private clubs and tour buses that also offer a fun and open place to get high and enjoy your stay.
The Marijuana Industry’s Effect on Colorado’s Economy
Since the legalization of pot in 2014, Colorado’s weed industry has since topped $6 billion in sales. The recreational cannabis industry has greatly impacted Colorado’s economy as it allows for increased employment opportunities and an increased market for industrial warehouse space for cultivation facilities. Over the years, the number of those working in the marijuana industry in Colorado has expanded significantly as demonstrated by the increase of occupational licenses from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division held throughout the state. As of March 2018, more than 38,000 individual licenses were issued in the marijuana industry, which represents an approximately 17.7 percent increase in employment over just the past year.
The tax rate on marijuana in Colorado is currently 15 percent in addition to a 15 percent excise tax for transfer between a manufacturing facility to a dispensary for recreational marijuana. Even further, all sales of pot are subject to local taxes as districts throughout the state may collect sales tax. So with all of this, how much does the state actually collect? In 2017, the state of Colorado made over $247 million in marijuana taxes and fees. The taxes placed on marijuana contribute to various funds including school construction and renovation, as well as health education on the effects of marijuana and substance abuse prevention. A large portion of these funds also goes toward maintenance projects to build new buildings and renovate existing ones.
You knew it was coming, the text in this article is informational only and not intended to be legal advice or recommendations in any way. Use this information as you will with your own discretion.
The bottom line is be safe, follow the rules, and enjoy some Mary Jane while you are in the Bicentennial State for your Rocky Mountain High!