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Colorado Cannabis Law Overview

The state of Colorado has been one of the biggest leaders in the campaign to decriminalize and legalize cannabis. In 2012, Colorado entered the national spotlight when it officially legalized cannabis for anyone over the age of 21. Ever since then, the state has passed a slew of legislation related to cannabis allowing Coloradans to obtain specific licensing, cultivate the plant, and open up dispensaries and retail establishments dedicated to cannabis.

The new opportunities cannabis has given Colorado residents are countless. However, it’s important to understand that starting up a cannabis business or obtaining a license is a daunting task. That coupled with the fact you must understand the criminal limitations to possessing, selling, or cultivating marijuana or you can face serious consequences, can make the process seem overwhelming.

Thankfully, there is help out there. The experienced cannabis lawyers at Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC have not only represented clients in criminal matters, but also provide representation services related to marijuana compliance in the state of Colorado.

Colorado Springs Cannabis Lawyers | Colorado Recreational Cannabis Laws

If you’re seeking out information as an interested hopeful business owner or because you’ve been arrested for violating criminal laws related to cannabis, the attorneys at Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC can help you. We offer informative consultations lasting up to one hour whether it’s for pending charges or to get started in the cannabis business.

We also offer cannabis businesses or licenses for sale. To learn more about what we offer and the portfolios of the cannabis businesses for sale, visit the link here.

The Colorado Springs cannabis attorneys at Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC are experienced in both Medical and Recreational Marijuana regulations, know the system, and are well-equipped to provide representation regardless of the charge or charges and previous record. Call the Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC today at (719) 328-1616 to set up your first consultation.

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Is it Legal to Smoke Cannabis in Colorado?

The short answer is yes. Adult-use recreational and medical cannabis has been legal in the state of Colorado since 2012. It was legalized by the Colorado Marijuana Legalization Amendment in November of that year and allowed anyone over the age of 21 to use cannabis. This amendment drastically changed the rules and regulations for cannabis usage in the state of Colorado and allowed the substance to be taxed.

Not only is cannabis legal to smoke in Colorado, but the state also allows residents to open cannabis-related businesses as long as they are in compliance with the rules set forth under the Colorado Code and the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED). The industry is heavily regulated and if you don’t remain in compliance, you may be fined and even have your cannabis license(s) revoked due to the violation.

For these reasons and more, we highly suggest you don’t take the risk of forming a cannabis business by yourself. The best way to get your toe wet in cannabis operations is to have a guide in the form of an experienced Colorado cannabis business formation attorney like the legal team at Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC.

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Colorado Laws on Buying Cannabis

It’s legal to smoke cannabis in the state of Colorado, but there are certain limitations both residents and out-of-state visitors must follow when purchasing cannabis. Firstly, the state of Colorado will only allow you to buy cannabis from a retail marijuana dispensary or store. Medical cannabis, on the other hand, can only be purchased with a medical marijuana card. If the retailer isn’t licensed and in compliance with MED, then the purchase is unlawful.

Adult-use recreational cannabis is only available to individuals aged 21 or older. Any person under the age of 21 consuming cannabis is in violation of Colorado laws. Coloradans are also only able to possess one ounce at a time of cannabis. If they’re found in possession of more than one ounce of cannabis, then the individual may be arrested and face criminal charges.

  • Above 1 ounce and up to 2 ounces:
    • Petty drug offense which can result in a fine not to exceed $100
  • Above 2 ounces and up to 6 ounces:
    • Level 2 drug misdemeanor, which can result in up to 1 year in jail as well as a fine of up to $1,000
  • Above 6 ounces or up to 3 ounces of THC concentrates:
    • Level 1 drug misdemeanor, which can result in up to 18 months in jail as well as a fine ranging up to $5,000

Out-of-state visitors can purchase, possess, and consume cannabis as well. The law makes no distinctions between Colorado residents and tourists possessing, purchasing, or consuming cannabis. Out-of-state visitors can purchase up to one ounce of cannabis as well from licensed retail dispensaries. Although cannabis is illegal federally, the government has stated they will not prosecute the possession or sale of cannabis, as long as state law is being followed, and those laws are “robust.”

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Can You Smoke Anywhere in Colorado?

Cannabis may be legal, but that doesn’t mean the law permits public use of the substance. Using cannabis in any way—including smoking, eating, or vaping—in public is illegal in the state of Colorado. Any person who openly or publicly displays, uses, or consumes 2 ounces or less of cannabis is guilty of a petty drug offense punishable by a $100 fine and 24 hours of community service.

The following are some indoor and outdoor areas where smoking cannabis is illegal.

  • Parks and amusement parks
  • Any type of retail establishment
  • Sidewalks
  • Concert venues
  • Cafes, restaurants, and/or bars
  • Common living areas in condominiums or apartment buildings
  • Ski resorts
  • Hotels (if they’ve clearly banned the substance)
  • Federal land

The best place to consume cannabis so you don’t face any criminal charges is on your private property. However, it’s important to remember property owners are permitted to ban the use and possession of cannabis on their properties. If you’re a tenant and your landlord doesn’t allow it, then you cannot possess cannabis in your home.

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How to Start a Cannabis Business in Colorado

You may have seen the boom of the cannabis industry in Colorado and you’re interested in getting involved. It’s not hard to see why. Legalized recreational cannabis sales have brought a ton of revenue into Colorado. When sales began in 2014, the Department of Revenue reported that the total income from tax/fees was about $7 million dollars a month. Now, in 2020, the DOR has reported cannabis sales in Colorado have surpassed $2 billion.

To get started, you have to be at least 21 years old. You must also be in possession of a storefront where you can operate your business and that also must abide by all city zoning ordinances that apply.

The biggest hurdle you’ll have to face is having all applicable state and city marijuana licenses. These licenses have strict qualifications, and you must present certain information in a timely manner, or you’ll be disqualified. To even apply for a marijuana license, you must first have a sales tax license.

Many move to the state of Colorado for the sole purpose of setting up a cannabis business or dispensary. However, if you wish to move to Colorado to seek a new business opportunity, you must first submit a pre-suitability application. The application is essentially the beginning of a background check by the state of Colorado that is designed to determine whether an applicant is suitable to open a cannabis-related business in the state.

If any of the following apply to you, then you’ll automatically be disqualified from obtaining any type of Colorado Marijuana License.

  • You were discharged from a sentence for a controlled substance-related crime within the last ten years
  • You were discharged for a sentence for a felony conviction within the last 5 years
  • You don’t have any delinquencies arising from judgments, taxes, or penalties from DOR
  • You’re a licensed physician making a recommendation to patients
  • Your authority as a primary caregiver was revoked in the past
  • You’re under the age of 21
  • You’re the spouse of or a child living in the house of an employee of the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED)
  • You’re a sheriff, deputy sheriff, police officer, prosecuting officer, or an officer/employee with the state licensing authority or local licensing authority for cannabis businesses.

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Licenses for Cannabis Businesses in Colorado

Once you’ve obtained a sales tax license, the next step is to start the application process for a marijuana business license. The type of licensing you’ll need will depend on what type of work you intend to perform. Many business owners must obtain several cannabis licenses in order to remain in compliance with the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED). Many services for cannabis businesses are interrelated but still require a separate license for each.

The following are some different types of licenses you can pursue based on your business.

  • Retail Marijuana Cultivation License – Anyone who wishes to cultivate, prepare, package, or sell cannabis to retail establishments or product manufacturing facilities must obtain this type of licensure. You cannot sell directly to anyone with only this type of license.
  • Retail Marijuana Transporter License – This license only allows the licensee to transport retail cannabis and products from one establishment to another.
  • Retail Marijuana Products Manufacturer License – If you wish to manufacture cannabis, this is the type of license you’ll need. They also sell products to retailers and other manufacturers, but never directly to customers.
  • Retail Marijuana Testing Facility License – Testing facilities allow business owners to analyze and certify the potency/safety of their products. If you wish to test your own cannabis products, this is the type of license to get.
  • Retail Marijuana Store License – Entities that are licensed can buy cannabis from cultivation facilities or manufacturing facilities, and then use that product to sell to customers directly.
  • Retail Marijuana Operator – License allows for the entity to provide professional operational services to any cannabis retail stores

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Additional Resources

NORML | Colorado Chapter -Visit the official Colorado Chapter for NORML, the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Legalization. Access the site to learn more about pending 2021 legislation related to cannabis and the industry, read the latest updates in Colorado marijuana laws/regulations, and learn more about Colorado laws for cannabis.

Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Divisions (MED) | DOR – Visit the official website of the Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR) to learn more about their Marijuana Enforcement Division. Access the site to learn what the division is tasked with and how to apply for a business license, to be a business owner, or to obtain an employee license for a retail or medical cannabis establishment.

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Colorado Springs Cannabis Attorneys | Criminal & Business Compliance

If you or someone you know has been arrested for violating cannabis laws or is hoping to start up a cannabis-related business, call Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC. Our attorneys are experts in all things cannabis, both criminal and legal, and can take on your case or help you formulate your business using our extensive experience and resources. Don’t wait another moment to secure your freedom or future riches, and call Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC.

Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC can be reached at (719) 328-1616 and we accept clients throughout the greater Colorado Springs and El Paso County area including Peyton, Black Forest, and Pueblo.

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