Drug policy of Colorado
Since the enactment of Colorado Amendment 64, adults aged 21 or older can grow up to six cannabis plants (with no more than half being mature flowering plants) privately in a locked space, legally possess all cannabis from the plants they grow (as long as it stays where it was grown), legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis while traveling, and give as a gift up to one ounce to other citizens 21 years of age or older. Consumption is permitted in a manner similar to alcohol, with equivalent offenses proscribed for driving. Consumption in public remains illegal. Amendment 64 also provides for licensing of cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and retail stores. Visitors and tourists in Colorado can use and purchase marijuana, but can not take it out of the state, and it is prohibited at Denver International Airport.
Governor Hickenlooper signed several bills into law on May 28, 2013 implementing the recommendations of the Task Force on the Implementation of Amendment 64. On September 9, 2013, the Colorado Department of Revenue adopted final regulations for recreational marijuana establishments, implementing the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code (HB 13-1317). On September 16, 2013, the Denver City Council adopted an ordinance for retail marijuana establishments.
The first stores officially opened on January 1, 2014. The state prepared for an influx of tourists with extra police officers posted in Denver. Safety fears led to officials seeking to limit use of the drug in popular ski resorts. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released July 21, 2014, Coloradans continued to support the state's legalization of marijuana for recreational use by a margin of 54–43 percent. At the same time, the poll indicated 66 percent of voters there think marijuana use should be legal in private homes and in members-only clubs, but should not be legal in bars, clubs or entertainment venues where alcohol is served. Sixty-one percent of respondents also said laws regulating marijuana use should be as strict as laws regulating alcohol use.
On November 7, 2000, 54% of Colorado voters approved Amendment 20, which amended the State Constitution to allow the use of cannabis in the state for approved patients with written medical consent. Under this law, patients may possess up to 2 ounces of medicinal cannabis and may cultivate no more than six cannabis plants (no more than three of these mature flowering plants at a time). Patients who are caught with more than this in their possession may argue “affirmative defense of medical necessity” but are not protected under state law with the rights of those who stay within the guidelines set forth by the state. Furthermore, doctors, when making a patient recommendation to the state can recommend the rights to possess additional medicine and grow additional plants, because of the patient’s specific medical needs. Conditions recognized for medical cannabis in Colorado include: cachexia; cancer; chronic pain; chronic nervous system disorders; epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures; glaucoma; HIV or AIDS; multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea. Medical cannabis patients are still under the scrutiny of federal law. Additionally, patients may not use medical cannabis in public places or in any place where they are in plain view, or in any manner which may endanger others (this includes operating a vehicle or machinery after medicating). Colorado medical cannabis patients cannot fill prescriptions at a pharmacy because under federal law, cannabis is classified as a schedule I drug. Instead, patients may get medicine from a recognized caregiver or a non-state-affiliated club or organization, usually called a dispensary. Dispensaries in Colorado offer a range of cannabis strains with different qualities, as well as various “edibles” or food products that contain cannabis. Certain dispensaries also offer patients seeds and “clones” for those who want to grow their own medicine.
In April 2013, the Colorado Court of Appeals held in Coats v. Dish Network that since marijuana remains against federal law, employers can use that standard rather than state law as a rationale for banning off-the-job worker use, and are not bound by Colorado's Lawful Activities Statute:
The primary question before us is whether federally prohibited but state-licensed medical marijuana use is "lawful activity" under section 24-34-402.5, C.R.S. 2012, Colorado's Lawful Activities Statute. If it is, employers in Colorado would be effectively prohibited from discharging an employee for off-the-job use of medical marijuana, regardless that such use was in violation of federal law. We conclude, on reasoning different from the trial court's analysis, that such use is not "lawful activity."
Cannabis was first criminalized in Colorado on March 30, 1917. For context, exactly one week later on April 6, 1917 the United States declared war on Germany; in November 1914 Colorado voters approved the 22nd Amendment to the Colorado Constitution, also known as the Prohibition Amendment, prohibiting alcohol beginning January 1, 1916; and on December 18, 1917 the Eighteenth Amendment (establishing the Prohibition) was proposed by Congress.
- Amendment 64: (3).b
- Amendment 64: (3).a
- Amendment 64:(3).a, 64:(3).b, and 64:(3).c
- Amendment 64:(1).b-III and 64:(6).b
- The Denver Post Editorial Board (30 September 2013). "In Colorado, you still can't smoke marijuana in public". The Denver Post.
- Caldwell, Alicia (19 October 2013). "Colorado must carefully define 'public consumption' of marijuana". The Denver Post.
- Lee, Kurtis (11 November 2013). "Denver to continue tweaks to public pot consumption law". The Denver Post.
- Amendment 64:(4)
- Flatow, Nicole (28 May 2013). "Six Ways Colorado Will Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol". Think Progress.
- "Gov. Signs Marijuana Bills Into Law". KKTV. AP. 29 May 2013.
- Kall, David M. (28 May 2013). "Legislature approves historic marijuana sales and excise taxes in Colorado".
- HB 13-1317 Implement Amendment 64 Majority Recommendation; HB 13-1318 Retail Marijuana Taxes; SB 13-283 Implement Amendment 64 Consensus Recommendations; HB 13-1325 Inferences For Marijuana And Driving Offenses; SB 13-250 Drug Sentencing Changes
- Ingold, John (10 September 2013). "Colorado first state in country to finalize rules for recreational pot". The Denver Post.
- Meyer, Jeremy P. (17 September 2013). "Denver council passes historic retail marijuana rules and regulations". The Denver Post.
- Healy, Jack (1 January 2014). "Colorado Stores Throw Open Their Doors to Pot Buyers". The New York Times.
- Nick Allen (31 December 2013). "Colorado becomes first US state to sell cannabis". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
- "July 21, 2014 - Limit Marijuana To Home, Members-Only Clubs, Colorado Voters Tell Quinnipiac University Poll; 50% Back Supreme Court On Contraception". quinnipiac.edu. Quinnipiac University. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Marijuana Law Reform". NORML. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
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- Ingold, John (25 April 2013). "Colorado court upholds firing for off-the-job medical marijuana use". The Denver Post.
- Roberts, Michael (26 April 2013). "Marijuana: Paralyzed MMJ patient plans Supreme Court appeal over DISH sacking". Westword.
- Coats v. Dish Network, 2013 COA 62 (25 April 2013).
- Horner, Kylie (30 March 2012). "Marijuana criminalized in Colorado 95 years ago today: Unhappy anniversary?". Westword.
- Session Laws of Colorado. 21st Assembly. 1917. Ch. 39, p. 120. OCLC 1564150.
- Kreck, Dick (5 July 2009). "High, dry times as Prohibition era sobered Denver". The Denver Post.