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Since going completely legal in 2014, marijuana use in Colorado has risen dramatically. Despite lifts on restrictions, however, there are still laws surrounding the use of cannabis and its related substances.

Many of these laws reference the business side of the “budding” industry. They dictate where shops can be open, what they can sell, etc. There are also a number of laws that put in place restrictions on the actual consumers of marijuana products.

Just like alcohol and tobacco products, cannabis use is tempered by age restrictions. Anyone under the legal age using the substance, or anyone providing for someone under the legal age, is in violation of the law.

According to Colorado law, when you provide marijuana to someone legally underage, you are contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

What Restrictions Does Colorado Pose on Marijuana Use?

The legal age for consuming marijuana in any form is 21. This is the same for residents of Colorado as well as non-residents visiting for marijuana tourism. The laws on this are quite clear and there are no exceptions.

“Red Card” Holders Under 21 Require an Adult

This law also applies to holders of medical cannabis cards in the state of Colorado. Medical Cannabis Registry card holders, also known as “red cards”, who are under the legal age of 21, must still have someone who is aged 21 or older supply them with medical marijuana.

Never Hold More Than a Single Ounce

It is not only illegal to buy marijuana under the age of 21, but also to be in possession of or use it as well. For people who are of legal age, you can possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and no more. Possession of over 1 ounce of marijuana can lead to arrest and legal charges being brought against you.

No Smoking in Public

Marijuana can only be consumed on private property and not in public places. This includes national parks, ski resorts, public parks, concert venues, restaurants and bars, and other public venues. Renters and visitors must check with property owners before using marijuana on-site.

What Happens When You Give Marijuana to a Minor in Colorado?

Let’s cut to the chase: Get caught providing marijuana to minors, plan on facing felony charges. This goes for all situations.

  • Say you are a 21-year-old buying marijuana for your 20-year-old friend, you are in violation of the law.
  • When you’re 22 and your little brother or sister is 18 so you buy them marijuana to share, you are still breaking the law.
  • Even further, legal adults purchasing marijuana for someone under the age of 18? This is considered contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

The law itself states that: “Any person who induces, aids or encourages a child to violate any federal or state law, municipal or county ordinance, or court order commits contributing to the delinquency of a minor”.

Punishment for a class 4 felony is usually equal to two years in prison and a fine of $2,000, plus three years of mandatory parole. That said, depending upon the circumstances surrounding your case, the maximum penalty can be six years in prison and a fine not to exceed $500,000. Three years’ parole is still a requirement.

Drug-Free Zones Add Years to Your Sentence

If you’re caught within the bounds of a drug-free zone — say you live within a certain distance from a school or other public location known to cater to children — what could have been considered a “normal” felony charge is suddenly compounded. You could add 8 years on top of your sentence.

Our advice? Think twice before your puff and pass. Is your smoking buddy of legal age? And if not, think about exactly what you have to lose.

If it’s too late, and you’re already in a situation that requires legal navigation, reach out to an experienced Colorado drug crime attorney for advice. You’ll be glad you did.


About the Author:

Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state.  She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.

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