Know the Law

Attention: This information is for guidance only.  Please consult an attorney for legal advice.

Residents & Visitors

How old do I have to be to purchase, possess, or consume retail marijuana?

  • Answer - You must be 21 and older to buy, possess or use retail marijuana. It is illegal to give or sell retail marijuana to minors.

What is the difference between medical and retail marijuana?

  • Answer - Only licensed retail marijuana stores may sell retail marijuana, and only to those 21 and older.

    Medical marijuana requires a state red card, which can only be obtained by Colorado residents with a recommendation from a doctor that a patient suffers from a debilitating medical condition that may benefit from medical marijuana. Medical marijuana patients can obtain marijuana from a licensed center, a primary caregiver or self-grow. For more information about medical marijuana, please visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.

Where can I purchase retail marijuana?

  • Answer - Those 21 and older can purchase retail marijuana at licensed retail stores.

    Other municipalities in Colorado also allow retail marijuana stores. Please go to each city’s website to determine specific marijuana sale and consumption laws.

Where am I allowed to consume retail marijuana?

  • Answer - Retail marijuana is intended for private, personal use. Such use is only legal in a licensed designated consumption area, or an area that is not a public place or viewable from a public place. The term public place means a place to which the public or a substantial number of the public have access, and includes, but is not limited to, streets and highways, transportation facilities, schools, places of amusement, parks, playgrounds, and the common areas of public and private buildings or facilities. In general, marijuana may not be consumed openly and publicly.

Can I consume marijuana in public?

  • Answer - No, it is illegal to consume marijuana in public. 

    This includes but is not limited to areas accessible to the public such as transportation facilities, schools, amusement/sporting/music venues, parks, playgrounds, sidewalks and roads and outdoor and rooftop cafes. It is also illegal to smoke at indoor-but-public locations like bars, restaurants and common areas in buildings.

Can I possess marijuana? And how much?

  • Answer - Since Amendment 64 went into effect in late 2012, adults 21 and older have been allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of retail marijuana.

How much marijuana can I purchase at one time?

  • Answer - Adults 21 and older can purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of retail marijuana at a time.

Can I consume marijuana in a licensed retail store?

  • Answer - No, it is illegal to consume marijuana in or around a licensed store. It is also illegal to smoke at indoor-but-public locations such as bars, restaurants and common areas in buildings.

Are marijuana "social clubs" or "coffee shops" permitted?

  • Answer -  Yes, if they have a cannabis consumption permit issued by the Department of Excise and Licenses. In November 2016 Denver voters approved Initiative 300. Under the initiative, adults may consume marijuana in designated consumption areas if the business is licensed by the Department of Excise and Licenses and the consumption occurs in compliance with all other laws. Denver Excise & Licenses has adopted final rules and regulations that govern the issuance and enforcement of the City’s new Cannabis Consumption Establishment and Cannabis Consumption Special Event licenses.

 

What are the consequences if I violate marijuana laws?

  • Answer - Penalties range from a fine to a possible jail or prison sentence. Colorado State Statutes and Denver Revised Municipal Code spell out the specific penalties for various violations.

    Schools, universities and employers are allowed to put in place their own disciplinary actions for marijuana-related infractions.

Are the rules different for possession and consumption of edible marijuana than for marijuana that can be smoked?

Answer - No. Possession laws are the same for all retail marijuana types, and public consumption is always illegal, regardless of form.

Can I have marijuana in my car?

Answer - Yes. Marijuana may be carried in cars but it may not be in an open container and cannot cross state boundaries. It is illegal to use or consume marijuana in a motor vehicle and it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana.

Is there a DUI-like equivalent for driving under the influence of marijuana?

  • Answer - Yes. It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana and it can result in a DUI, just like alcohol. Anyone with 5 nanograms or more of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (known as THC) per milliliter in whole blood (CRS 42-4-1301) while driving can be arrested for DUI. The consequences of DUI is dependent on the driver but they can include fines, jail time and a revoked license.

Can I take marijuana through airport security or travel out of state with it?

  • Answer - No. It is illegal to take marijuana across state lines. DIA prohibits possession, use, display, and transfer of all marijuana on its property.

Can I consume marijuana on public transportation (buses, light rail) in Denver?

  • Answer - No. It is illegal to consume marijuana in public, which includes public transportation.

Can I smoke marijuana in a limousine in Denver?

  • Answer - If the for-hire limousine is truly private and does not allow access to the general public, marijuana may be consumed in the rear-passenger area if the consumption is not viewable from a  public place. However, other laws may impose restrictions on business models involving marijuana consumption. It is illegal for drivers and front-seat passengers to use marijuana in vehicles designed for private, for-hire transportation in Denver. 

 

Can I consume marijuana inside a smoke-friendly hotel room or on a hotel balcony?

  • Answer - Hotel operators may have smoking rooms (the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act limits all smoking to at most 25 percent of rooms) where guests can consume marijuana, however consumption may not be conducted openly and publicly. Always ask your hotel operator if this is permitted. Denver city laws prohibit marijuana consumption on hotel balconies if visible from any public place.

Do the laws of Denver apply elsewhere?

  • Answer - Denver ordinances only apply within the City and County of Denver. Please go to each city or county’s website to determine specific marijuana sale and consumption laws.

Does Denver have additional prohibitions on use or display of marijuana?

Answer - It is illegal to consume, use, display, transfer, distribute, sell or grow retail marijuana at or within any park, parkway, mountain park (including Red Rocks) or other recreational facility, on  any city-owned property (including streets and sidewalks) within 1,000 feet of a public or private elementary, middle, junior high or high school and on the 16th Street Mall (including any city street or sidewalk one block in either direction from the mall). Additionally, DIA prohibits possession, use, display and transfer of all marijuana on its property.

Are there additional restrictions on public consumption of marijuana in Denver that I should know about?

  • Answer - On residential private property, retail marijuana consumption is illegal unless the person is the property owner or lessee or has been granted express or implied permission by the property owner or lessee. On private non-residential property, marijuana consumption is illegal in any outdoor location if it is clearly visible from a public place.

Marijuana Consumption Laws

 

Parents, Guardians & Neighbors

What is the penalty for someone under the age of 21 who is caught possessing or consuming marijuana?

  • Answer - Penalties can range from a fine to a possible jail or prison sentence. Additionally, K-12 schools, universities and school districts may have disciplinary and expulsion policies for students caught with retail marijuana on school property.  In Denver, those 18-21 caught possessing marijuana will face a civil penalty and not a criminal citation.

Can I legally give or sell marijuana to someone under the age of 21?

  • Answer - No. You must be 21 and older to have or use retail marijuana. It is illegal to give or sell retail marijuana to minors.

Are there limitations on the proximity of retail marijuana businesses to schools?

  • Answer - There is a 1,000-foot spacing requirement between retail marijuana stores and schools. 

What should I do if I suspect or know my child has consumed marijuana?

  • Answer - Call 9-1-1 if you are worried about the health and safety of your child. You must be 21 and older to have or use retail marijuana and children should be kept away from retail marijuana at all times.

What should I do if I suspect or know my pet has consumed marijuana?

  • Answer - Call a veterinarian. Pets should be kept away from marijuana at all times. 

Can I legally grow marijuana at home?

  • Answer - Yes. Adult residents can grow up to 6 marijuana plants per person. No more than 12 total plants are allowed per residence regardless of the number of adults living there.

    Marijuana plants must be kept in an enclosed, locked area, and growers should take extra precautions to ensure that only authorized adults have access to the marijuana plants. 

    You must be 21 and older to have or use retail marijuana. Children and pets should be kept away from plants at all times. 

How can Denver residents and visitors avoid exposure to public marijuana use?

  • Answer - It is illegal to consume marijuana in public in Colorado. If you see a violation in Denver, call the police non-emergency line at 720-913-2000.

How is marijuana smoke treated differently from tobacco smoke in terms of where it is permitted?

  • Answer - Both marijuana and tobacco smoke are subject to the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, which prohibits smoking in most indoor places accessible to the public. 

    It is illegal to consume marijuana in public.

What can I do if I live near a marijuana cultivation center (grow facility) and the odor is bothersome?

  • Answer - If marijuana odor is perceived to be excessive, residents can file a nuisance odor complaint with the Denver Department of Environmental Health by calling 3-1-1.

What should Denver residents of visitors do if they see a violation of marijuana laws?

  • Answer - Call the police non-emergency line at 720-913-2000.

How can a Denver resident or neighborhood association weigh in on whether a new marijuana retail store can open in their neighborhood?

  • Answer - Only existing medical marijuana centers that are eligible to convert to retail stores can change their license before 2016. Centers that are eligible must participate in a public hearing process in which relevant registered neighborhood organizations are notified of the license request and allowed an opportunity to provide testimony. Click here to access the public hearing calendar.

What are the health effects of using retail marijuana?

Business & Property Owners

Can individual property owners restrict or prohibit marijuana use or possession on their property?

  • Answer - Yes. Any property owner can limit retail marijuana use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growth of marijuana on his or her property.

Can a business owner or manager weigh in on whether a new marijuana retail store can be open in its neighborhood?

  • Answer - Yes. Only existing medical marijuana centers that are eligible to convert to retail stores can change their license before 2016. Centers that are eligible must participate in a public hearing process. Click here to access the public hearing calendar.

Does marijuana smoke fall under provisions of the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act (including those related to hotel/motel rooms and restaurants)?

  • Answer - Yes. The Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking in restaurants and limits the number of hotel rooms in which smoking is permitted. A hotel or motel wishing to permit marijuana smoke in individual rooms would still need to keep 75 percent of the rooms smoke free.

Can employees restrict or prohibit marijuana use or possession by employees at the workplace?

Answer - Yes. Employers are allowed to regulate or prohibit the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the workplace. Employers may also enact policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees.

Marijuana Retailers & Home Growers

What kind of marijuana licenses are issued by the City of Denver?

Answer - Denver issues licenses for:

  • Retail Marijuana Stores
  • Retail Marijuana Products Manufacturing Facilities
  • Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facilities
  • Retail Marijuana Testing Facilities
  • Medical Marijuana Centers
  • Medical Marijuana Optional Premises Cultivation Facilities 
  • Medical Marijuana Infused Products Manufacturing Facilities

When did retail sales begin in licensed stores?

  • Answer - The first retail sales were legally authorized to begin on Jan. 1, 2014, in licensed stores, subject to inspections, hearings and other criteria. 

Who is eligible to apply for a retail marijuana license?

Answer - In Denver, only existing medical marijuana centers, manufacturers and cultivators that were operating in good standing as of Oct. 1, 2013 can apply for a retail license before Jan. 1, 2016. These facilities can convert to a retail license or add a retail license to their existing medical marijuana license.

For additional information on becoming a licensed retail store, please visit the Colorado Department of Revenue and Denver Excise & Licenses.

 

What is the process for transitioning a medical marijuana center license in to a retail store license?

 

How do I verify a license?

Answer - To verify the status of a medical or retail marijuana business license located in Denver please contact Denver Excise & Licenses by calling 311 (or 720-913-1311 if outside Denver). Please have the business name, address, or business file number of the requested license available.

 

How do I modify an existing license?

  • Answer - To make a physical modification to an existing licensed premise, transfer the location of your license to new premises, or change the ownership of an existing license you must complete the required application process with the city and the state.

Any proposed physical modification and any new location to which an existing licensed business is transferred must fully comply with spacing and zoning requirements and will require another round of inspections. If you plan on making a physical modification of the premises, you must contact Denver Development Services to obtain the proper construction permits and get all required inspections to receive the Certificate of Occupancy (CO) or final approval before you can occupy a building. Additionally, any change in the use of a building may require a new zoning permit and the Denver Fire Department requires operational permits for the installation of new systems.

Do I need a license to transport marijuana?

  • Answer - Yes. The only persons authorized to transport marijuana or marijuana products are those licensed by the State Licensing Authority and Denver Excise & Licenses. 

How are inspections conducted?

  • Answer - Once all application forms and requirements are satisfactorily completed, Denver Excise & Licenses will issue an Inspection Card to the applicant. Applicants must schedule and complete inspections with the following City of Denver departments prior to issuance of the license:
    • Fire Department
    • Environmental Health
    • Community Planning & Development - Neighborhood Inspections Services
    • Community Planning & Development - Building Department
    • Excise & Licenses 

Any construction (i.e., new walls, electrical circuits, grow lights, commercial kitchen appliances, mechanical work, etc.) requires construction permits. All construction permits are required to be finalized and you must receive a Certificate of Occupancy or final approval prior to issuance of a business license. Before submitting an application for licensing or occupying a building, you must obtain a zoning permit for use from Community Planning & Development’s zoning permit counter and ensure that the proposed location is in full compliance with spacing and zoning requirements.

 

What kind of products can a retail marijuana store sell?

  • Answer - A retail marijuana store may only sell “retail marijuana,” as defined by the Colorado Department of Revenue, which has been sourced from a licensed Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facility or a Retail Marijuana Products Manufacturing Facility. A retail marijuana store may not sell or give away any consumable product that is not a retail marijuana product including, but not limited to, cigarettes or tobacco products, alcohol beverages, and non-alcohol beverages or food products that are not retail marijuana product.

How much marijuana can be sold to an individual in a retail store?

  • Answer - Colorado residents 21 and older can purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of retail marijuana at a time.

    Non-residents are limited to ¼ ounce. 

How are marijuana-infused foods regulated?

 

Can I legally grow marijuana at home?

  • Answer - Yes. Adult residents can grow up to 6 marijuana plants per person, with no more than 3 in the mature/flowering stage at any time. No more than 12 total plants are allowed per residence regardless of the number of adults living there. Marijuana plants must be kept in an enclosed, locked area.

    Take extra precautions to ensure that only authorized adults have access to the marijuana plants. You must be 21 and older to have or use retail marijuana. Children and pets should be kept away from plants at all times. 

Is there a limitation on the number of plants that I can grow at my home?

  • Answer - Yes. Adult residents can grow up to 6 marijuana plants per person, with no more than 3 in the mature/flowering stage at any time. No more than 12 total plants are allowed per dwelling unit, regardless of the number of adults living there.

Can I sell home-grown marijuana to others?

  • Answer - Home grown marijuana, no matter the form, may not be sold to others.

    Take extra precautions to ensure that only authorized adults have access to marijuana plants. You must be 21 and older to have or use retail marijuana. Children and pets should be kept away from plants at all times. 

Is it legal to grow plants outside?

  • Answer - No. Marijuana plants must be kept in an enclosed, locked area that can’t be viewed openly. This means that plants can only be grown in a structure with a permanent roof and solid exterior walls. Marijuana cannot be grown outdoors.

Is there a limitation to the number of plants that I can grow in a non-residential property?

  • Answer - Yes. No more than 36 plants can be grown outside of any dwelling unit within City limits unless the grower holds marijuana cultivation licenses issued by both the state MED and the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. Neither caregivers nor medical patients with extended plant counts are exempt from this rule.