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During the summer months, the state of Colorado is full of fun things to do. From concerts and shopping to partying all hours of the day and night with friends, there’s no question that this is a fun place to live.

In many cases, these fun events result in the use of alcohol and other substances. Sometimes, both legal and illegal substances are present.

Regarding drug laws, Colorado is one of the most lenient states in the country. After all, marijuana is legal here. However, if you happen to violate one of the drug laws, it can result in serious consequences. Due to the impact a drug conviction can have on your life, it’s important to know exactly what the laws are.

If you are convicted of a drug crime, it can impact your family, job, and income. At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, we are ready to help you fight the charges you are facing. We can help build a solid defense for the charges you are facing.

Colorado’s Latest Marijuana Laws

The state of Colorado legalized the use of recreational marijuana in 2012. The state has also legalized medical marijuana; however, you must have a residential identification card, which can be acquired at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

If you want to purchase this substance or consume marijuana, it is required that you must be 21 years old or more. If someone provides retail marijuana to someone under this age, it is charged as a felony.

If you are 21 years old, you can legally purchase one ounce of marijuana at a time from a licensed retail store. You have the right to possess as much as two ounces of this substance at a time in the state, too.

You should note that you must consume your marijuana in designated locations. These include:

  • Lodging: An example would be a hotel. The lodging provider can determine if marijuana can be consumed on their property.
  • Private property: This is your home. If you are a renter, you should check with your landlord before doing this. Some property owners may decide to ban the possession and use of marijuana on their property.

Just like there are places where you can consume marijuana, there are locations where it is illegal to do so. This includes federal lands like ski slopes, national forests, and national parks and public locations like amusement parks, restaurants, businesses, common areas at housing complexes, concert venues, sidewalks, and ski resorts.

It’s also possible for cities and towns in Colorado to set rules regarding marijuana consumption. Because these rules and laws can vary, it’s smart to investigate the local laws and rules before you use or consume marijuana.

Related Article: Can I Use Marijuana While on Parole or Probation in Colorado?

Understanding Colorado’s Schedule Classifications for Illegal Drugs

Just like the federal government, the government in Colorado has separated different types of controlled substances (drugs) into schedules. The schedules are categories created that highlight how likely a drug is to be abused. Drugs in Colorado are separated into the following schedules:

Schedule I

Schedule I drugs include peyote, heroin, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), PCP, and LSD. These are drugs that are likely to be abused and that don’t have any proven medical use.

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs in Colorado include methamphetamines, opium, hydrocodone, oxycodone, cocaine, fentanyl, and other drugs with a high likelihood of abuse. However, these drugs also have a proven medical use. If someone abuses these drugs, it can have significant psychological and physical consequences.

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs include ketamine, anabolic steroids, barbiturates, and other drugs that have a lower possibility of abuse than Schedule I and II drugs. However, it can still result in higher levels of dependence.

Schedule IV

Schedule IV drugs include sleep medications like zolpidem, anti-anxiety medications like diazepam, and other drugs with a set medical use and a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs.

Schedule V

A Schedule V drug includes over-the-counter medications and certain cough syrups that have a small amount of codeine. These types of drugs have a low potential for abuse and accepted medical use.

A recent law, HB19-1263, changed possession laws related to small amounts of Schedule I and Schedule II drugs from a felony to just a misdemeanor. However, even with misdemeanor charges, you will face serious penalties like fines, probation, and jail time. These can impact your ability to access housing and employment opportunities.

Related Article:Most Common Drug Arrest in Denver

Colorado Drug Penalties Explained

The penalties for Colorado drug crimes vary based on the substances involved, your age, and your actions (for example, distribution or possession).


Marijuana is legal in Colorado; however, driving while high is not legal. It is fine to transport marijuana in your vehicle if you keep it in a sealed container, but you can’t drive across state lines or bring it with you to Denver International Airport.

It is illegal to drive after consuming marijuana, and if caught, you will face DUI charges. Based on state law, the impairment level for marijuana is five nanograms per milliliter of blood.

If you are caught with more than the legal amount of THC in your system while you are driving, you will likely face DUI charges. However, getting a DUI charge with lower amounts of THC in your system is possible if it has impacted your driving ability.

According to the government in Colorado, using 10 mg or more of THC can result in impairment. It’s best to wait a minimum of six hours after you smoke up to 35 mg of THC before driving. For edibles, the waiting time is eight hours for up to 18 mg of THC.

Other Drug Penalties in Colorado

If you possess a controlled substance, the penalties you face depend on the drug you are caught with. For example, if you are caught with under four grams of a schedule I or II controlled substance, it is charged as a level 1 drug misdemeanor until your fourth offense. At this point, the charge is elevated to a level 4 drug felony.

The penalties for a level 1 drug misdemeanor charge include fines of up to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail. After getting out of jail, you can have two additional years of probation for your first two convictions. If you have a third or subsequent offense, then you will face jail time of up to 364 days.

If you are caught selling drugs, the potential penalties are more severe than just possessing them. If you give marijuana to a person under 21, you will face felony charges, which carry penalties of up to $1 million in fines and 32 years in prison.

Related Article: How To Beat A Drug Trafficking Charge In Colorado

Contact an Attorney for Help with Colorado Drug Charges

You can face significant penalties if you are caught with drugs in Colorado. To help protect yourself and your freedom, get in touch with a Colorado criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC. Our legal team will help you build a solid defense to help you overcome the charges you face.

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