It is against the law to possess, use, manufacture, or sell certain drugs and controlled substances in Colorado. If the authorities catch you doing any of these things, you may face significant penalties that can impact your life in many ways.
If you are arrested for a drug crime, it is smart to contact our drug crime lawyer at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani. You can also learn more about Colorado drug sentencing guidelines here.
Before diving into what drugs are illegal in Colorado, it is important to know what is allowed. The most common legal drug people think of in Colorado is marijuana. However, just because it was legalized for recreational use does not mean it is a “free for all” in the state. There are still rules and regulations that must be followed.
In Colorado, anyone over age 21 can possess one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana. Individuals under the age of 21 are prohibited from possessing any amount of marijuana. Also, you cannot have marijuana on property owned by the federal government. Included in these properties include HUD housing, Veterans Administration, post offices, airports, courthouses, and National Parks.
There are other drugs besides marijuana that are legal in the state too. More about these is below.
While several drugs are now legal in Colorado, many are still considered illegal and defined by law as controlled substances.
Schedules categorize all controlled substances, and five schedules indicate the drug risk level for misuse and addiction. The purpose of the schedules is to make it easier to understand what charge someone will face if found with an illegal substance. This is because drug charges are partly based on the drug and quantity someone has.
The schedule goes from I to V, with one being the drugs with the highest risk of abuse and no known medical use, to V, which contains the least serious controlled substances. Being convicted of a Schedule I drug crime carries the most severe penalties.
Each schedule is defined here:
Substances classified as Schedule V drugs that contain some narcotics like cough syrup made with codeine. However, these medications also have a high medical use and value and a low risk of addiction. Because of this, they come with minor penalties (compared to the others).
Schedule IV drugs include prescription medications like Valium, Ambien, and Xanax. These drugs have a higher potential for abuse but also have medical value. The potential penalties for distributing or using Schedule IV drugs are more severe than those for Schedule V drugs.
Substances classified as Schedule III drugs are those typically found in combination products. Examples include Vicodin and non-narcotics like anabolic steroids, ketamine, and testosterone. While the drugs still have medicinal value, they are more addictive, and the penalties are more severe.
Schedule II drugs have some medicinal uses; however, there is also a higher risk of abuse and addiction. Some of the drugs classified as Schedule II substances include methamphetamine, morphine, codeine, fentanyl, amphetamine, and oxycodone. The penalties can be severe if you are charged with a drug crime related to these substances.
Schedule I drugs have no medical use and high risk for abuse. Charges associated with Schedule I drugs come with more serious penalties than others. Some of the drugs classified as Schedule I include heroin, MDMA, methaqualone, and LSD.
Part of the reason drug laws and drug sentencing guidelines are so complicated in Colorado is that they have undergone several changes in recent years. One example of this is House Bill 19.1263. This bill decriminalized the possession of some Schedule I and Schedule II drugs in small amounts.
If you are found in possession of four grams or less of Schedule I or Schedule II drugs, you only face misdemeanor charges rather than a felony. The goal of this was to give defendants the option to seek drug treatment for addiction instead of them being sentenced to jail.
While this is true, the misdemeanor drug charge in Colorado is still serious. You can face jail time and significant fines if you are convicted. Even though this is the case, you can still get help rather than facing criminal charges.
Even while there have been changes to the law in Colorado, it is still considered illegal to have any level of GHB or Rohypnol in your possession.
There are three main drug offenses you can be arrested for in Colorado. These include the following:
Using controlled substances in Colorado is usually charged as a level II misdemeanor. There are exceptions to this. If you are caught taking a prescription medication without a valid, doctor-issued prescription or not as prescribed, or using marijuana or medical marijuana outside of your residence, then the charge will likely be more serious.
If you are over 21, you can legally possess one ounce of marijuana. Most other controlled substances are prohibited by law.
Three types of possession can be charged in Colorado, which includes the following:
You will face criminal charges if you are found in possession of a controlled substance beyond what is considered legal. The level of the charge depends on your drug and how much you have.
If you are caught manufacturing or selling drugs in Denver as well as the rest of the state, it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The charge you face depends on several factors, including the following:
Felony charges related to drugs in Colorado are typically limited to selling or manufacturing narcotics. There are four different felony drug charges in the state, which include the following:
If you are charged with a level I felony, it is the most serious drug offense. You will face this charge if the following apply to your situation:
If you are convicted of a Level I drug felony in Colorado; the penalties include fines of up to $1 million and up to 32 years in prison. If aggravating factors are involved, then the minimum prison sentence is 12 years. In Colorado, aggravating factors include the following:
A Level II drug felony in Colorado is still a serious charge. However, it does not come with as serious penalties as a Level I charge does.
Common crimes related to a Level II felony include selling over 14 grams of a Schedule I or II substance or distributing or selling materials that can be used for manufacturing a controlled substance. It also applies to the unlawful production of methamphetamine or amphetamine.
Potential penalties for Level II drug felony convictions include eight years in prison and fines of up to $750,000. If there are aggravating factors (listed above), then the maximum prison sentence will be 16 years.
A Level III drug felony is a serious charge. It will be charged if you are found selling over 14 grams of a schedule I or a schedule II substance. It also applies to situations where you sell or distribute materials used for manufacturing a controlled substance or possessing any material illegally to create methamphetamine or amphetamine.
Potential penalties for a Level II drug felony include up to eight years in prison and fines of up to $750,000. If aggravating factors are present, then the jail sentence extends to a maximum of 16 years.
If you are found selling 14 grams of a Schedule I or Schedule II drug, then you will face a Level III drug felony. This is the case if they are found distributing an imitation of any controlled substance to a minor. This crime comes with penalties of four years in prison and fines of up to $500,000. If aggravating factors are involved, the sentence can increase to six years.
If you face this charge, then the penalties are much more severe. If you are caught selling four grams or less of any controlled substance or the possession of ketamine or GHB will result in this. You will face up to 12 months in prison and fines of up to $100,000. When aggravating factors are present, the maximum sentence is two years.
In Colorado, there are two types of drug crimes charged as misdemeanors. These include the following:
Crimes like possessing over six ounces of marijuana or illegally possessing a schedule III or IV drug will be charged as misdemeanor offenses.
If convicted of this charge, you can face fines of up to $5,000 and a prison sentence of 18 months.
Some drug crimes are level II misdemeanors. This includes those who have over two (and under six) ounces of marijuana or abuse toxic vapors. This crime may also be charged for the advertising of drug paraphernalia or the illegal use of any controlled substance.
Penalties for this crime, if you are convicted, include fines of up to $750 and a year in prison.
As you can see, Colorado has serious penalties for drug crime convictions. If you are in this situation, be sure to contact our Denver drug lawyer at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani. We are here to help you with any issues you face and ensure you get the best possible outcome for your drug charges.