As one of the first states to decriminalize private marijuana use, Colorado has blazed the way for legalized marijuana, no pun intended. Even though it has been over a year since Colorado voters first approved Amendment 64, the state and local communities are still trying to figure out exactly what the amendment means. And while they wait, there is the possibility that individuals who believe they are complying with the rules may be arrested and charged with drug crimes. Until there is utter clarity on what is and what is not illegal under the amendment, there may be individuals charged with marijuana crimes.
One of the causes for confusion is that local communities can pass their own laws about the drug. If, for example, a county wanted to, it could ostensibly recriminalize the drug. Or, it could severely restrict where marijuana can be smoked, who can smoke it and where it can be purchased. For example, Colorado Springs has elected to prohibit stores within the city limits from selling marijuana. If that is not well-known, however, someone could be arrested for purchasing marijuana from a store that he or she doesn't know is violating the law.
As we mentioned in one of our articles, drug crimes can come with serious consequences. Not only is there the possibility of jail time, fine or other significant penalties, but there are also the long-term consequences of a conviction. Having a criminal record can make it hard to find a place to live, get into school or even find a job. While marijuana use is now legal, it may not be something someone wants to share with a future employer.