Colorado Medical Marijuana Laws

Colorado Marijuana Law - Amendment 20

In November of 2000, 54% of Colorado voters approved Amendment 20, which amended the state's constitution to acknowledge the medical use of cannabis. This law removed criminal penalties - at the state-level - on the possession, use, and gardening of cannabis by patients who benefit from the medical use of marijuana as judged so by a qualifying physician.

Colorado regards the following as qualifying conditions:

  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic nervous system disorders
  • Epilepsy and other seizure-related disorders
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Nausea

It is important to note that even though Amendment 64 acknowledges legal cannabis in the state of Colorado, the medical marijuana system stays in place with only Colorado medical cannabis patients with a marijuana red card able to shop at medical marijuana dispensaries.


Under Amendment 20, a patient or their primary caregiver may legally have no more than two ounces of a usable form of cannabis, and no more than six marijuana plants, with three or fewer being mature plants that are producing a usable form of cannabis. Medical marijuana patients are allowed to engross in the medical use of marijuana with no amount that is more than is medically necessary to address their medical condition.

Legal Use

One cannot use medical marijuana in a manner that endangers the well being or health of any person; or engage in the consumption in plain view of, or in a place that is open to the general public. This inherently limits the consumption of medical cannabis to one's home with the idea of  “plain view” including one's yard or garage if they can be viewed using their medicine by neighbors.


Medical marijuana confidentiality is protected by law (HIPAA) and by the measures used by the medical marijuana registry. Under HIPAA, lists of doctors and patients of caregivers cannot be distributed to anyone. Law enforcement officials may only contact the registry to verify information from a medical marijuana red card.

Colorado Marijuana Law – Amendment 64

Amendment 64The 2012 Colorado election made recreational use of marijuana legal to anyone 21 years and older, regardless of the state they reside in, making Colorado the first state in the country to end marijuana prohibition.

Amendment 64 Terms & Conditions

Amendment 64 makes the self-contained use, regulated possession, and home-growing of marijuana legal for adults while establishing a method in which cannabis is taxed, regulated, and dispersed similarly to its predecessors ... alcohol and tobacco. Amendment 64 gives local and state governments the capability to tax and monitor all marijuana sales. The first $40 million produced by the state excise tax was geared towards school construction with the remainder of the money to be used in regulating marijuana stores and to implement educational campaigns around marijuana.

This amendment, outlining a drug policy statewide for cannabis, permits adults to grow up to three immature and three mature cannabis plants in an enclosed, locked space, buy up to one ounce from a marijuana dispensary, allows one to legally possess all of the marijuana from the plants they grow, legally possess up to one ounce while traveling, and give as a gift up to one ounce to other United States citizens that are 21 years of age or older.

Utilization of recreational marijuana is allowed in a similar manner to alcohol, but comes with the corresponding offenses for driving laws. One is allowed to transport the legal limit of cannabis in their automobile, but driving “stoned” is still against the law. Colorado has a set of standards on how much THC that drivers can test for, and if the operator of a motor vehicle tests above that limit, they may face legal action.

Under Amendment 64, possession for Colorado residents is limited to up to an ounce for personal use, and a quarter ounce for non Colorado residents. It is still illegal to sell cannabis without a license, purchase marijuana from a person who is not licensed, and use marijuana in public.

Packaging Rules

All marijuana transported from recreational marijuana shops must be packaged in opaque, child-resistant packages. All MMJ products must include labels on them as well, with details of the potency, types of chemicals used in the cultivation process, and other pertinent information.

Recreational vs. Medical Marijuana

Medical cannabis shops such as Medical Marijuana of the Rockies are still alive and kicking. Colorado now has a medical marijuana registry of over 112,000 people who are permitted to shop in its medical dispensaries.

The benefits of medical marijuana dispensaries are that patients do not have to pay the extra sales and excise taxes that are on recreational sales, and they can possess up to two ounces of marijuana instead of the one ounce permitted under Amendment 64.


In terms of privacy, while recreational marijuana sales under Amendment 64 are not protected by the HIPAA laws, the measure states: “The department shall not require a consumer to provide a retail marijuana store with personal information other than government-issued identification to determine the consumer’s age, and a retail marijuana store shall not be required to acquire and record personal information about consumers other than information typically acquired in a financial transaction conducted at a retail liquor store.”

However, when purchasing recreational cannabis, remember that you will be on camera. Colorado’s rules for recreational marijuana shops do require them to have at least one security camera pointed at the cash register so that it can document “the customer(s) and employee(s) facial features with sufficient clarity to determine identity.” Additionally, recreational marijuana stores are also required to have security cameras on all entrances and exits.


Since Amendment 64 is an amendment to the Colorado constitution, the federal government is still not on board. Therefore, it is illegal to consume marijuana at the Colorado winter ski resorts that reside on federal land, national forests, national parks, and the numerous national monuments. Possession of marijuana is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine. The only place that it is clearly OK to consume marijuana is in a private residence and not in plain view.

Taking any and all marijuana out of the state of Colorado is also illegal, even if you are traveling to another state that recognizes legal marijuana. The U.S. Postal Service not only doesn’t allow pot to be mailed, it has stepped up its efforts to find marijuana products in the mail. Individuals who do send cannabis through the mail can face federal charges.

Summary of Amendment 64 Rights You Don’t Have

  • You may NOT sell marijuana to other people (patients & individuals), but it is acceptable to trade or gift marijuana in Colorado to another individual as long as you are not requiring any payment for that product.
  • You are NOT protected under federal law ... the federal government still does not recognize it.
  • Employers may terminate you for marijuana use (in or outside of the workplace).
  • Marijuana use may affect your insurance coverage in which drug tests are mandatory. Having a marijuana red card does not preclude you from this hit.
  • Any landlord can restrict you from growing or using cannabis on their property. If your landlord allows for it, be sure to get this on record.
  • It is still illegal to smoke marijuana or consume marijuana edibles at ski resorts or National Forest areas since they reside on Federal Lands. Discretion can be a virtue.
  • Each Colorado county has their own set of rules when it comes to personal home growing of marijuana. It is your responsibility to know what the laws are in your county.
  • It is still illegal to ship marijuana and/or marijuana products through the mail, even if it is to another town in Colorado.
  • You must be 21+ in order to consume recreational marijuana. However, you can be a Colorado resident or an out of state visitor.
  • All cannabis must be in a childproof container stowed in the rear of any vehicle, and not within arm's reach of the driver and passenger seats. Trunks or stowaway areas are the best places to store your marijuana.