First and foremost, the basic rules of legalized recreational marijuana drug use are:
• Coloradoans may only possess or purchase 1 ounce of marijuana at a time.
• Smoking, vaporizing, or consuming cannabis in public places (I.e., Red Rocks; Coors Field; 16th Street Mall; parking lots; or airports) is absolutely forbidden.
• Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal.
So, all Coloradoans can use marijuana for pleasure now?
Correct–to an extent. All legal residents of Colorado 21 years and older may possess, use, display, purchase, or transport 1 ounce (nearly 60 joints) or less of marijuana for recreational use. However, several cities and counties have passed their own amendments to make things such as marijuana growing facilities or retail pot shops illegal (here’s looking at you, Colorado Springs, Westminster, and Centennial!). Similarly, your employer has the right to create his or her own policies regarding marijuana use amongst employees-even in the privacy of their own homes.
Since marijuana is legal in Colorado, petty drug offenses aren’t that big a deal anymore, right?
This is a common misconception. The federal government still considers marijuana illegal, which means any evidence that you have partaken in or purchased the drug could affect your federal student loans, certain employment positions, and social benefits such as food stamps or public housing. Furthermore, drug offenses will always show up on your background checks.
I’m 21 years old; could I share my weed with my 18-year-old brother?
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You cannot supply marijuana to anyone younger than 21-even if it’s free and not for monetary compensation. Also, the zero-tolerance law means individuals under 21 face an automatic loss of their license if they are found driving under the influence of marijuana.
Can I resell the weed I bought legally?
No. You may, however, gift someone over 21 up to 1 ounce of marijuana-as long as there’s no exchange of money involved.
If my college roommate visits me from Alabama, do all these laws apply to him as well?
Only if he has a government-issued Colorado ID. Non-residents may purchase up to ¼ an ounce of marijuana per transaction, whereas they may possess one full ounce at a time. Essentially, your friend could make four different purchases in one day, but that’s a gray issue where the consequences, or lack thereof, just aren’t explicit so far.
Is there a legal limit for how much weed I can have in my system and still drive?
The legal limit is 5 nanograms or less of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the active ingredient in marijuana) per milliliter in whole blood. This isn’t a great measurement because different strains of marijuana carry different potencies of THC; also, people metabolize the drug at far more diverse rates than alcohol. For this reason, you’ll likely never see a chart that tells you how many joints or brownies are too many to get behind the wheel.
How is the amount of marijuana in my body tested?
If they have a justifiable reason, law enforcement officials suspicious of drugged driving will request a blood draw. As this Westword article points out, however, these blood tests have not yet been refined and they can be rather inaccurate. In this case, the reporter’s blood test showed that he was heavily stoned hours after he had last smoked anything. Other experts believe people build up a tolerance to the drug and they might still be sober at 5 nanograms. I urge you to highly consider refusing the blood test if the situation arises. If you do take the test, make sure you secure one of the blood samples to reaffirm the results independently later on.