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Colorado Criminal Defense Blog

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You probably know by now that marijuana is legal in Colorado. Well, within certain limits. Laws dictate who can purchase recreational marijuana and in what quantity.

Those rules are currently being reconsidered in the state legislature. For now, here’s what you need to know about personal possession limits for marijuana in Colorado, as well as the penalties you face if caught with too much in hand.

Current Cannabis Laws in Colorado

In the state of Colorado, marijuana may be legal, but that doesn’t mean you can stack up a limitless amount. In fact, each town or county has a right to its own marijuana laws. It’s best to check where you are.

Some rules you can expect to follow:

  • You must be 21 to purchase retail marijuana and provide a valid ID.
  • You can only buy from licensed retailers.
  • Adults can possess one ounce of marijuana at any given time.
  • You may not use marijuana in public or on federal land.
  • You can use marijuana on private property.

Possible Increase in Allowable Amounts of Marijuana

A bill has been introduced into the Colorado House of Representatives that aims to raise the legal limit from one ounce to two ounces. It would still only apply to adults over 21. This bill also proposes clearing criminal records of low-level marijuana offenders and sealing any past convictions for possession of two ounces or less.

Penalties Faced Under Current Laws

In Colorado, you can be charged for possession of a controlled substance whenever anything considered a controlled substance, including marijuana, is on your person or under your physical control. There are different schedules for controlled substances in Colorado. Schedule I drugs carry the highest potential for abuse. Schedule V drugs have the lowest potential.

The penalties faced for possession of a controlled substance depend on the drug schedule classification and how much you possess.


Denver Marijuana Crimes

In Colorado, it is considered a level 1 misdemeanor to possess:

  • As much as four grams of drugs from Schedule I (except cathinone or GHB)
  • As much as four grams from Schedule II
  • Schedule III drugs, with the exception of Ketamine
  • Schedule IV drugs (with the exception of Rohypnol)
  • Schedule V drugs

If you are found guilty of a Level 1 drug misdemeanor, then you can be sentenced to jail time for up to 18 months. You may be required to pay up to $5,000 in fines. If found guilty for the fourth time or more, then you can face higher penalties equating to a level 4 drug felony.


In Colorado, it’s a level 4 drug felony to possess:

  • Over four grams of drugs from Schedule I
  • Over four grams of drugs from Schedule II
  • Any amount of bath salts, Ketamine, or Rohypnol

If you are convicted for possession of these drugs, you may face up to one year in prison. The fines for this level climb as high as $100,000.

You can also be convicted of aggravated felony drug possession in some circumstances. A case may be considered aggravated if one of the following proves true:

  • The defendant is on parole as a result of other felonies.
  • The defendant is on probation.
  • The defendant is currently in jail as a convicted felon.
  • The defendant is an escaped felon.

Defenses Against Drug Possession

Mount a good defense against charges for drug possession. After all, there are a variety of situations that can lead to charges for actions without ill intent on your part. Some of the best strategies for fighting against drug possession charges in Colorado include:

  • The drugs did not belong to you. Therefore, you had no control over them.
  • You didn’t realize the substance you had was considered a controlled substance.
  • You had a prescription for the drugs in your possession.
  • The drugs were planted on you without your knowledge.
  • You were entrapped by law enforcement.
  • You were falsely accused of the crime.
  • There was an illegal search done by police, or they lacked sufficient probable cause to stop you in the first place.

Defenses Against Drug Possession in Denver

Make sure to secure witness testimony and any other evidence needed to support your defense.

Understanding your rights is vital, especially in states like Colorado, where controlled substance laws may vary within a few miles. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty.


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” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 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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