The passage of Amendment 64 legalized possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use by persons aged 21 or older. But Colorado laws regulate where recreational marijuana can be consumed and how it can be transported. If you run afoul of these laws, you could face serious legal problems, including the possibility of jail time.
The City of Colorado Springs prohibits recreational marijuana dispensaries but allows medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within city limits. The law treats the possession of marijuana purchased in these two channels somewhat differently.
To illustrate some of the issues you may face, let’s say you’ve travelled to a recreational marijuana dispensary outside Colorado Springs, you’ve purchased an ounce of pot, and you’re headed back to Colorado Springs. You get into your car and open the package to inspect the product you’ve bought. That in itself is a violation of the law. It’s illegal to possess recreational marijuana in an open container in a vehicle, just as it’s illegal to possess an open can of beer in your car. And don’t think of lighting up in your car or in the parking lot – that’s against the law too. The best thing to do is to put the sealed package of marijuana in the trunk of your car. You may also want to put it in a container with a sealed lid to hide the aroma of the marijuana. This could help you avoid hassles if you are pulled over for a traffic violation.
What if you and a friend each buy an ounce of marijuana? Does that put you over the possession limit? In court, you could make a strong case that it’s not. But to limit potential problems in case of a stop, you should keep the two packages sealed and in separate locations in your vehicle.
Driving while high can also get you in trouble. If you are found to have 5 nanograms or more of active THC in your bloodstream, you can be charged with DUI. Consuming both marijuana and alcohol at the same time can put you at greater risk, because police make arrests based on observed impairment. In a subsequent blog post, we’ll discuss driving under the influence of marijuana at greater length.