Retail Marijuana

Is marijuana legal in the state of Colorado?  No, it is not.  Marijuana remains illegal federally and both state and federal law apply.  However, on November 6, 2012, the citizens of the State of Colorado voted to decriminalize adult possession and use of marijuana on a limited basis.  Amendment 64 to the Colorado State Constitution also provides for the retail production and sale of marijuana.

State Criminal Laws

Until further action is taken by the state legislature, Colorado Revised Statute 18-18-406 makes all possession, use, sale and cultivation illegal.  Depending on the conduct, the crimes range from felony down to petty offenses.  Also, driving under the influence of drugs, including marijuana, remains illegal.

Amendment 64

Amendment 64 decriminalizes adult (over the age of 21) possession, cultivation and use of marijuana on a limited basis.  The Amendment makes it lawful for an adult to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana.  The Amendment is silent on whether this includes hash, oil, edibles, and other marijuana concentrates.  The Amendment also permits the cultivation of up to 6 plants, with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants.  An adult can also transfer up to 1 ounce of marijuana to another adult, as long as there is no renumeration.  Public consumption of marijuana is not permitted.

Marijuana Businesses

The state will begin accepting applications for marijuana retail businesses in October 2013.  As with medical marijuana businesses, local governments are permitted to refuse to allow such businesses to be located in their town, county, etc. Preference will be given to medical marijuana business licensees who have demonstrated the ability to lawfully operate such a business.  This does not mean that non-medical marijuana business applicants will be excluded, just that medical marijuana business will receive preference in licensing.  Unlike medical marijuana businesses who were permitted to operate until the license was granted, marijuana businesses will not be able to begin operation until both the state and local licenses are granted.

Amendment 64 closely tracks the language of the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code, C.R.S. 12-43.3-101 et seq. (link) and the Department of Revenue Rules that interpret and implement the Code (link to rules).  Basically, the marijuana business must both produce the marijuana and sell the marijuana at its own retail establishment.  It remains unclear whether the businesses will be able to transact with each other, how inventory will be permitted and regulated and how many plants may be cultivated by each business.  Marijuana product manufacturing will also be permitted, as with medical marijuana.


As with medical marijuana, no employer is required to permit or accommodate marijuana activities.  Schools, hospitals, detention facilities, and companies who control a property are permitted to exclude marijuana activities from their property.

Medical Marijuana

No medical marijuana business is permitted to provide marijuana to non-medical marijuana patients and the activities of medical marijuana businesses are entirely separate from marijuana business activities and marijuana activities generally. Those businesses continue to be regulated under the Medical Marijuana Code (link).

Link to Dept. Rev. Rules: Current MMED Rules

Link to CMMC: Medical Marijuana Code