Decriminalization is the buzz word most often attached to marijuana laws. Decriminalizing marijuana possession really means treating the offense like a petty crime or traffic incident. The state of Colorado has adopted this decriminalization attitude with regard to a small amount of marijuana. They also passed medical marijuana initiatives in 2000 allowing for the medicinal use, possession and growing of marijuana.
However, just because some of your laws are deemed “pot friendly” doesn’t mean all marijuana use is legal. As a matter of record, there is an average of over 10,000 arrests on marijuana charges every year in Colorado. Illegal marijuana farmers account for around 55,000 pounds of pot grown each year which translates into a $375 million street value.
Colorado Medical Marijuana Laws
Like other states, Colorado residents passed medical marijuana laws. This allows for patients who are suffering from certain illnesses to get a prescription from a doctor to legally obtain marijuana. Under the conditions of the Colorado medical marijuana law, a patient with written documentation of this illness is entered into a confidential registry. Often these are people suffering from chronic pain, glaucoma, cancer, and certain types of seizures or nausea.
Colorado medical marijuana laws allow registered users or their specific caregivers to be in possession of up to two ounces of marijuana or the ability to grow up to six plants for their own use.
Colorado Marijuana Penalties
A petty offense is how the Colorado law refers to the possession of less than a single ounce of marijuana. Even with that type of offense you will be charged a $100 fine. You are also required to report to a court ordered hearing. If you fail to show up for the hearing, you are then charged with a misdemeanor and can face up to six months in jail with a $500 fine. It is also a misdemeanor to be caught using marijuana in public. For that charge you’ll have 15 days added to your possible jail time.
With possession of one to eight ounces of marijuana, you’ll still be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to six to eighteen months in jail with a possible find in the range of $500 to $5,000. Possession of more than eight ounces of marijuana will have you charged with a felony. A conviction for this charge comes with a one to three year jail sentence and fines of anywhere between $1,000 and $100,000.
When you are arrested for selling marijuana you start off with the same treatment of less than one ounce as a petty offense. However, selling or growing any amount over one ounce is a felony and comes with two to six years in jail and/or $2000 to $200,000 in possible fines. If you are caught and convicted of transporting over 100 pounds of marijuana, you’re looking at 8 to 24 years in jail and fines of $5,000 to $1,000,000.
Those same penalties are attached to a conviction for selling marijuana to a minor or within 1,000 feet of a school. The possession or selling of pot paraphernalia is treated as a petty offense with a $100 fine.