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Colorado Marijuana Penalties

Updated on June 28, 2021.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Colorado Medical Marijuana Penalties

In 2012, Colorado voters approved a measure that would legalize possession of cannabis for non-medical purposes. However, patients who qualify for medical cannabis use can possess more weed than non-medical users. But while medical marijuana penalties in Colorado are extremely lenient, those who violate the law can face very harsh punishment.

Possession and Cultivation

Whereas non-medical cannabis users can legally possess one ounce of pot, patients who qualify under the state’s medical marijuana program are legally entitled to possess double that amount. Qualifying conditions include cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma, chronic disorders affecting the nervous system, nausea, seizures and others.

Medical marijuana patients are allowed to cultivate no more than six cannabis plants, and no more than three of them can be mature at one time. There are several dispensaries in operation throughout the state, which has helped Colorado see revenues of nearly $1 billion in sales per year.


Caregivers for medical marijuana patients in Colorado can be anyone who is 18 years of age or older, and someone other than the physician or parent of the patient. State law allows only one primary caregiver per patient at any one time, and caregivers can have a maximum of five patients.

Penalties for Non-Medical Marijuana Use

While Colorado residents can legally possess up to an ounce of weed without being arrested, people may be subject to receiving a fine for use in public. Discretion is required no matter where you may be in the state.

Colorado medical marijuana penalties, as well as non-medical penalties, for open use call for a $100 fine. There are some public places in the state, namely cannabis clubs, where smoking is allowed. However, for the most part, the law calls for discretion when it comes to public consumption. Law enforcement authorities in many cities cite people using in public in a similar manner to walking around in public with an open container of beer or another type of alcoholic drink.

But the penalties get a great deal harsher for possession of more than the legal limit. For example, someone convicted of between two and six ounces could spend as long as a year in jail and pay a fine of as much as $700. Possession of six to 12 ounces is punishable by up to a year and a half in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000. Anyone convicted of possessing more than 12 ounces of weed will face felony punishments of up to two years in prison and a fine of as much as $100,000.

Colorado also has a driving under the influence law that applies to cannabis. Police can require drivers to pull over and can arrest them if they appear to be operating a vehicle while stoned. The penalty will depend on the level at which the driver was impaired at the time of arrest. Penalties for a first offense range from up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $500 to up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Keep Up-To-Date With Laws and Other Information

If you’re looking for a marijuana doctor in Colorado, has a complete database. Look for a marijuana doctor who can help you obtain the medical marijuana you need, and stay apprised of Colorado marijuana laws, too.

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