With the legalization of medical marijuana in 2010 and recreational marijuana in 2014, it would seem that anyone might be able to pull a joint out of their pocket in the middle of downtown and start smoking with no concern of consequence.
So can you ever get in trouble for smoking weed or being high? To put it succinctly: YES.
It is Illegal to Possess More than One Ounce of Marijuana in Colorado
On December 10, 2012, the Colorado Legislature enacted Amendment 64, which allows anyone over the age of 21 in Colorado to possess up to an ounce of marijuana as long as the individual can show proof of having a valid Colorado driver’s license. Possession of over one ounce, but less than eight ounces, can leave you charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor, punishable with a sentence of 6 – 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Possession of anything over eight ounces is considered a Class 5 Felony and could land you with 1 – 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Smoking Weed in Public is Still Illegal
While Amendment 64 made it legal to consume marijuana in a private setting, any open consummation or public display of marijuana is always illegal, regardless of the form- which means that even eating a “pot brownie” in public could potentially get in you into trouble. A person who publicly displays or consumes less than two ounces of marijuana may be convicted of a Class Two Petty Offense, face a fine of up to $100 and spend up to 15 days in jail. A person who publicly displays or consumes more than two ounces of marijuana may be found guilty of a Class Two Misdemeanor and be sentenced to 18 months in jail, with a fine of up to $5,000.
Smoking Weed at Ski Slopes, National Parks, National Forests and National Monuments is Off-Limits
Even though the State of Colorado has legalized the consummation of marijuana, the Federal Government still classifies the plant as a Schedule 1 Drug and therefore, any possession of consummation of marijuana on federal land is strictly prohibited. If you are caught with possession of any amount of marijuana on federal land, you could face a punishment of up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Can I bring Marijuana with me When I Go Out-of-State?
No. Whether you are travelling by plane or car, it is always illegal to cross state lines with marijuana in your possession. Denver International Airport has banned any possession of marijuana on its premises, even if you are just picking someone up. Several DUI checkpoints may be found located just outside of Colorado’s state borders, and those officials will not recognize the validity of a medical marijuana card. In the month of January alone, Nebraska authorities filed over 23 marijuana possession cases. If you are stopped on an interstate highway, you could possibly face charges under federal law and be subject to even harsher penalties.
Can I Sell Marijuana to My Buddies?
If you are caught selling marijuana without a license from the State of Colorado to do so, you could spend 2 – 6 years in prison for being in possession with intent to distribute. It is illegal to sell any amount of marijuana to anyone, even your friends. Law enforcement officials are particularly on the lookout for people that accumulate large amounts of marijuana and then turn around and sell it on the black market, a concept otherwise referred to as “smurfing”.
Can I Grow Marijuana in my Backyard?
Yes, but it must be in compliance with local zoning and code ordinances. Colorado law allows people ages 21 and over to grow up to six plants at their home, but it must be done in an enclosed and securely locked area.
Can I Get Arrested for Being High in Public?
No. Colorado is one of the few states to decriminalize public intoxication, as the condition is viewed as more as a societal issue than a crime punishable by law. On the other hand, you can get into trouble if you are caught breaking another law after smoking marijuana. If you get arrested on the sole grounds of being high in public, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Clawson and Clawson, LLP, as soon as possible to make sure your rights are protected.