Casey Bradley Gent
Welcome to the promised land, friend. Good luck picking a strain.
elcome to colorful Colorado! We’re guessing that, since you’re reading this, your favorite Colorado color is green. A lot of tourists and newcomers to the state are excited to walk into one of our famous marijuana dispensaries, especially if it’s their first time buying weed at a counter.
And hey, enjoy! But also keep in mind that this isn’t Las Vegas, and what happens here doesn’t always stay here. Yes, Amendment 64 made recreational cannabis legal in our state, but this isn’t a free-for-all. There are still laws restricting cannabis in Colorado, and you’d do well to abide by them.
In the guide below, we’ll help you figure out those laws (with help from the Colorado Springs Police Department), let you know where you can buy your bud, and fill you in on a few other insider tips. We’re going to assume that you aren’t going to grow your own plants (that’s a whole other can of worms) and that you’ll avoid obvious pitfalls (don’t get high when you’re pregnant). Happy toking!
So, can I buy as much cannabis as I want?
There are different rules for medical marijuana patients (who must possess a state-issued red card), but if you’re new to town, chances are you’re hitting up a retail shop. Here’s the deal: You must buy from a licensed retail dispensary, and you have to be 21 to buy, sell or use marijuana in the state. Giving weed to a minor is a big, fat no-no (and can earn you a drug felony).
If you are 21 or older, it’s legal for you to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana flower or 800 milligrams of THC in edibles or 8 grams of concentrate or mix and match. Possessing more could be anything from a petty drug offense to a felony.
Also — outside of our licensed shops — dealing marijuana is still illegal in Colorado (depending on the amount, it’s up to a Level 1 drug felony).
Where can I buy retail marijuana?
At any licensed retail shop — but there aren’t any in Colorado Springs, where City Council voted against allowing them. Just to the west, in Manitou Springs, you can shop at Emerald Fields
(27 Manitou Ave.) or Maggie’s Farm
(141 Manitou Ave.). Both of those bustling spots should have what you need, though Manitou is a pricey town with limited competition, so some folks prefer to head to the shops in Pueblo or Denver.
If you’re buying a larger quantity, the trip may be worth it. But for a smaller amount, you could burn more in gas than you’ll save. Also, be aware that the taxes on recreational marijuana are sky-high. Taxes vary depending on where you buy, but the state alone charges a 15 percent tax, and local government and special district taxes generally up that percentage.
Yes, we have a legal industry!
But there are still laws, you guys.
Where can I get high?
Let’s start with this little caution: It is illegal to get high in public. The Springs City Code allows for you to be hit with up to a $2,500 fine and up to 189 days in jail. (And, word to the wise, if you smoke on federal land and get caught, you’re dealing with federal marijuana laws. Many ski slopes are on National Forest and Bureau of Land Management land.)
You also can’t smoke in your car (or drive stoned... more on that later).
You also probably can’t smoke in your hotel or other lodging, unless policies specifically say you can or you were smart enough to reserve a room in a 420-friendly bed-and-breakfast, Airbnb or VRBO spot.
You can smoke in your own home if your landlord allows it, or in a friend’s home.
In Denver, a law passed a while back that allows businesses to permit cannabis consumption on their properties, so you can partake at specially licensed establishments. As of this writing, there was also a bill in the state Legislature that aims to allow “tasting rooms” at dispensaries.
But honestly, creating the equivalent of a bar for cannabis users has been a controversial headache for Colorado lawmakers. In Colorado Springs, we do have a number of these businesses — called cannabis consumption clubs — though their legal status is in limbo. Studio A64
is the longest-lasting of the local clubs.
Can I get in trouble for driving stoned?
You sure can! If you’re caught driving with more than 5 nanograms of THC in a milliliter of your blood, you can get a DUI. Don’t drive high. It’s not safe, and you could end up with fines, in jail and/or losing your license.
A DUI is a misdemeanor in Colorado, but, according to the Colorado Revised Statutes, “is a class 4 felony if the violation occurred after three or more prior convictions, arising out of separate and distinct criminal episodes, for DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI; vehicular homicide.”
Can a company drug test me for marijuana?
Yes, your employer is allowed to drug test you, even for marijuana. And if you fail the drug test, you can be fired, or a company can decide not to hire you for that reason alone. That’s true even if you have a red card.
Is it a big deal if I bring some of my product home with me to another state?
Yeah, it is a big deal. Transporting marijuana across state lines can be considered federal drug trafficking. Otherwise, if you’re caught in Colorado, you will be tried under our laws, but in a neighboring state, you’re likely to face much more serious penalties. And, while this shouldn’t need an explanation, you really don’t want to be caught in an airport with marijuana. The city has amnesty boxes at our airport to drop your stash. If you carry it into secure areas, you’re under the authority of TSA, and could face a federal charge.