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In Colorado, there is a lot of confusion over what is and is not legal when it comes to marijuana.  With the proliferation of medical marijuana and now recreational marijuana stores, this confusion continues to grow in the public.  I often speak to individuals charged who are confused because they thought whatever they did would have been legal.  I hope to clarify some of this confusion with this blog posting.


Perhaps the easiest way of approaching this task is to address each activity separately –  possession, distribution and/or manufacture, and cultivation.


As to possession, possession of one ounce or less is not criminalized.  The transfer of one ounce or less for no renumeration also is not criminalized.  However, consumption of marijuana in public is illegal, subject to a jail sentence of up to 15 days, and a fine of up to $100.  So it may not be a good idea to walk down the streets of Denver smoking a joint or a bowl.  Many individuals have now invested in more discreet smoking advices.


Possession of over one ounce remains illegal.  Possession of two to six ounces is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in the county jail, while possession of between six and twelve ounces is punishable by up to eighteen months in the county jail.  Possession of more than twelve ounces of marijuana is actually a felony.


Sale or distribution of marijuana is always a felony, unless done legally through a medical marijuana business or through a recreational marijuana business.  An enterprise recently proliferating has been the acquisition of medical marijuana, which is then sold and delivered to prospective buyers subsequent to a craigslist posting.  These cases are actively being prosecuted in Denver.  I have dealt with several of these cases myself.  Caregivers sometimes believe that once designated as a caregiver the sale to anyone becomes legitimized; this is not the case.  A caregiver  can be listed on the registry for no more than five patients at a time.  The medical marijuana law does not allow for caregivers to sell to random individuals over the internet.


Sale of five pounds or less is a felony punishable by one to three years in the department of corrections.  Sale of five to one hundred pounds is a felony punishable by  two to six years in the department of corrections.  Sale of more than one hundred pounds is punishable by four to twelve years in the department of corrections.


Whether or not you intended to sell, intent to sell can be inferred from the manner in which your marijuana is packaged and stored.  If your marijuana is packaged in multiple containers, you may be charged with possession with intent to distribute.  Also, one larger bag in conjunction with a scale and some smaller bags, even if those bags are empty, may also serve as a basis for a charge of intent to distribute.


If you are unclear about what is and is not illegal under Colorado marijuana law, it is always best to talk with a defense attorney who is up to date on marijuana laws in the state.


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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