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Colorado & Denver Marijuana Law History

Medical Marijuana

Colorado has two primary medical marijuana laws. Colorado’s first and oldest medical marijuana law is a constitutional amendment passed by voters authorizing patients and their caregivers to possess, cultivate, and use medical marijuana. Colorado’s second medical marijuana law enacted in the summer of 2010 established the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code, C.R.S. 12-43.3-101 et seq., which creates a dual licensing scheme that regulates medical marijuana businesses at both the state and local level.

In November of 2000, voters of the state of Colorado passed Amendment 20 to the state’s constitution, codified in article XVIII, section 14. This article effectively legalized limited amounts of medical marijuana for patients and their primary caregivers.

In 2010, the Colorado Legislature enacted the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code – the most comprehensive system of medical marijuana distribution and regulation in the world – through the passage of SB 10-109 and HB 10-1284.

The following year after the passage of HB10-1284, the legislature enacted HB11-1043 a bill to clean up some regulatory inconsistencies. This law provides new restrictions on licensed businesses and caregivers. Notably, it requires caregivers to register their “caregiver grow” with the Colorado Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division.

Recreational Marijuana

On November 6th, 2012, Colorado became the first state in the world to vote in favor of ending marijuana prohibition with about 55% of the Colorado electorate voting in favor of Amendment 64. 

State and city officials spent the following year crafting rules and regulations for the legal sale of recreational marijuana. On January 1, 2014, Colorado marijuana dispensaries opened their doors for the first time to customers 21+. 

On May 1st, 2016, Denver City Council enacted a new ordinance that prohibits Denver Excise and Licenses from accepting new applications for retail marijuana stores and retail marijuana cultivation facilities that would result in the creation of new storefront or cultivation locations.

Initiative 300: Social Consumption Pilot Program

In November 2016 Denver voters approved Initiative 300, granting businesses the ability to apply for a permit to allow for adult marijuana consumption in designated areas. The city’s Office of Marijuana Policy and Department of Excise & Licenses are leading a rulemaking process to establish a robust regulatory structure for businesses that wish to pursue this new license.

For additional information on marijuana use in Denver and Colorado, please use the following links: 

Denver Marijuana Information
Marijuana Licensing Information
State of Colorado Marijuana Information



A statement from Councilwoman Kendra Black: 

My top priorities are to eliminate the illegal industry (drug cartels), keep our communities and public spaces safe, and to keep marijuana away from children.

I am not an advocate for marijuana use. However, I am a proponent of legal and safe ways for adults to purchase and use marijuana, which will push the illegal industry out of the market and put an end to public use in our parks and alleys.

As the chair of the Denver City Council Marijuana Committee, my goal is to stay abreast of the industry and provide relevant foundational knowledge to my fellow council members so we can create balanced legislation to achieve these goals while respecting the will of the voters.