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Letter of the law(s) 

Why you may be confused about the legality of medical marijuana

Federal policy

Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance, defined in the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 as:

(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.

(B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

State amendment

"Allows patients diagnosed with a serious or chronic illness and their caregivers to legally possess marijuana for medical purposes. For a patient unable to administer marijuana to himself or herself, or for minors under 18, care-givers determine the amount and frequency of use; allows a doctor to legally provide a seriously or chronically ill patient with a written statement that the patient might benefit from medical use of marijuana; and establishes a confidential state registry of patients and their care-givers who are permitted to possess marijuana for medical purposes."

City code

Colorado Springs City Code § 7.2.109: "Where any provision of this Zoning Code conflicts with any other provision of the City Code, or any other law or ordinance, the more stringent requirement, regulation, restriction or limitation shall apply."

As explained on the city website: "Currently, there is no defined land use that recognizes the cultivation, possession or distribution of marijuana for any purpose. Federal and state law, however, both prohibit the cultivation, possession and distribution of marijuana. Based on the current wording of City Code § 7.2.109, the City cannot enact an ordinance that authorizes any business activity that conflicts with these state and federal laws. Therefore, these types of land uses are prohibited in any zone district in the City."

Note: Pueblo has a moratorium on new dispensaries until June 1.

Colorado state penalties for non-medical possession and use:

One ounce or less: $100 fine

One to eight ounces: 6 to 18 months in jail and fines from $500 to $5,000 plus a $600 surcharge

Comparable to the penalty for a Class 6 felony (stalking, bigamy, theft): 12 to 18 months in jail and fines from $1,000 to $100,000

More than eight ounces: 1 to 3 years in jail, fines from $1,000 to $100,000 with a $1,125 surcharge and a felony conviction

Comparable to the penalty for a Class 5 felony (menacing, third degree burglary, knowledgeable possession of a dangerous weapon): 1 to 3 years in jail and fines from $1,000 to $100,000

Penalty for selling or cultivating within 1,000 feet of public housing or schooling: 8 to 24 years in jail and fines from $10,000 to $1,000,000

Comparable to the penalty for a Class 2 felony (manslaughter, robbery, sexual crimes, drug crimes, kidnapping): 8 to 24 years in jail and fines from $5,000 to $1,000,000

  • The federal policies, state laws and penalties related to MMJ.

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