At the beginning of this month, the first legal marijuana retail shops opened their doors to long lines in Colorado. Voters there legalized marijuana over a year ago and the system in place to support the voters’ will is now operating full speed ahead. Initial reports are that the industry made over $1 million in the first day alone.
Many people have questions about marijuana in Colorado, whether they live there or are thinking of visiting. The truth is, with the changing tide of marijuana laws across the country, Colorado offers many lessons and is certainly a case study for other states considering legalization.
Here are a few things you need to know about pot in Colorado.
1. I thought marijuana was legalized in November, 2011?
That is when Colorado voters decided to pass the legislation that created the system we have in place now. The framework took lawmakers months to put together, however. On January 1, 2014, the first retail marijuana stores were opened, despite recreational marijuana technically being legal for about a year before.
2. Who can buy marijuana?
Adults aged 21 and over can purchase marijuana in the dispensaries. Even adults from other states can purchase pot from Colorado stores.
3. How much marijuana can we buy?
For Colorado residents, the limit is up to one ounce at any time. A non-resident (a tourist or someone just visiting) can only purchase one-quarter of an ounce at a time. In addition to dried marijuana, customers can also purchase edibles and other products made with marijuana.
4. Can I sell marijuana?
Only licensed retailers are allowed to legally sell marijuana. Selling marijuana without a license is still against the law. But, you can give marijuana away to other adults as long as money or value isn’t traded for it.
5. What’s still illegal?
There are several marijuana crimes that you can still be charged with in Colorado. Violating any one of these could result in an arrest and jail time.
- You cannot smoke or consume marijuana in public.
- You cannot smoke or consume marijuana at all if you are under age 21.
- You cannot move Colorado marijuana across state lines.
- Though you can have marijuana in your car, you cannot drive while under the influence of marijuana.
While opponents of legalization would have you think Colorado is a disaster waiting to happen, photos of opening day around the state showed responsible citizens lining up with smiles on their faces. These weren’t the faces of junkies or criminals, but adults exercising their right to partake of a healing, and largely harmless plant.