In Late November of 2018 Law enforcement seized nearly 900 marijuana plants and 125 pounds of ready-for-sale marijuana products from three warehouses in Loveland.
The Larimer County Sheriff’s office said the marijuana’s estimated black-market value was in excess of $1 million. The marijuana was intended to be sold in Colorado and in other states, according to a news release. The bust was led by the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force and involved the US.
By this point, you may be confused. Isn’t marijuana legal in Colorado? Recreational marijuana use became legal in our state in 2012, and the laws around it have been evolving ever since. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the nuances of Colorado’s marijuana laws, so you can better understand what is allowed and what isn’t, using the recent Loveland bust as a point of reference.
Colorado’s Rules on Growing Marijuana at Home
During the Loveland bust, police seized 856 marijuana plants. While it is legal for Coloradoans to grow marijuana in their homes, the plants must be for personal use. It would be nearly impossible to argue that 856 plants could be for any individual’s personal use. And even if it were possible for one person to use 856 plants, it would still be over the legally allowed maximum number of plants.
As you can see on the State of Colorado’s website,
- Colorado residents age 21 or over may grow a maximum of six plants in their homes, with up to three flowering at a time.
- Residences are limited to a maximum of 12 plants (and cities and counties can pass their own, more restrictive ordinances)
- There are special rules about preventing access to marijuana plants by anyone under the age of 21.
Finally, homegrown marijuana cannot be sold to anyone. That means anyone, including to people inside Colorado. Marijuana can only be sold by licensed businesses. It doesn’t take much of a leap to believe that the 856 plants being grown in Loveland were going to be sold, which would be illegal.
Businesses Selling Marijuana Have to Follow Strict Procedures
Marijuana dispensaries are required to abide by several regulations governing the operation of their businesses. These are called “point-of-sale” regulations, as described on the state’s website:
- Dispensaries can only be open from 8 a.m. to midnight (and cities can further limit these hours)
- Marijuana products must be sold in resealable, child-resistant packaging that is not see-through.
- Proper labels, including imagery mandated by the Colorado Department of Revenue, must be affixed to all marijuana products.
While the stories in the media about the Loveland incident do not give details, one can imagine that the three warehouses were unlikely to be licensed dispensaries. And, even if they were, we are left in doubt about whether they would have packaged and labeled the products properly under state law.
Possessing and Using Marijuana
In addition to the plants being grown, authorities in Loveland seized 125 pounds of ready-to-use marijuana products. That is a very large amount, particularly considering what amounts are legal for a person to have.
Adults 21 and older may have up to 1 ounce of marijuana. Any more than this can result in charges and fines.
There are also several restrictions on where marijuana can be used. Specifically, it is illegal to use marijuana (including smoking, eating or vaping) in any public place. This includes sidewalks, parks, resorts, concerts, restaurants, common areas of apartments and many other places. It is also illegal to use marijuana on federal land, such as when visiting a national park.
Get the Advice You Need
As you can see, it’s not quite as simple as “marijuana is legal in Colorado.” There are still plenty of ways to find yourself in trouble with the law.
If you do find yourself arrested, or if someone in your family has taken into custody, getting in touch with the right lawyer is extremely important. The Moorhead Law Group is highly experienced in these cases and is here to help.