colorado laws on growing cannabis

Can You Possess Too Many Marijuana Plants in Colorado?

On January 1, 2013, Colorado became the first place anywhere in the world to allow legal marijuana sales to anybody over 21 for any purpose, including recreational use. Residents of Colorado are also allowed to grow Marijuana privately, but under very strict guidelines and regulations. This article offers some useful insight on who can grow marijuana in Colorado, what the regulations are and what consequences you can expect if you breach the law.

Who can grow marijuana in Colorado?

Any adult who is licensed can grow marijuana for personal use in Colorado. However, there are strict regulations that need to be followed.

Is there a minimum age requirement to grow Marijuana in Colorado?

First, for you to be allowed to grow marijuana in Colorado, you must be above the minimum age of 21 years. Before attaining the age of 21, you will be liable for a misdemeanor being in illegal possession of marijuana plants (regardless of the amount) and you may pay a fine of $500-$5,000 or face 6-18 months imprisonment.

Is there a limit to the number of plants I can privately grow in Colorado?

If you are over the age of 21 and want to grow Marijuana without a cannabis business, the number of marijuana plants under your care must not exceed 6 as outlined in the Constitution of Colorado, Article XVIII section 16 (3). In case you exceed the limit and you are found to be in illegal possession of marijuana plants, you will have committed a drug felony, hence punishable by 6-18 months imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $100,000.

Can I grow Marijuana plants anywhere on my property?

The law requires that all marijuana must be grown in an enclosed area that is not available for public scrutiny. You are not allowed to grow marijuana in open places. The rationale behind this is to make sure that minors do not access and be in illegal possession of marijuana plants. This is one of the bigger risks involved with growing marijuana at home. You are therefore advised to take necessary precautions to ensure that any person who is below the age of 21 in your home does not gain access to marijuana plants. Otherwise you will be in contravening the law.

What if I am caught with illegal possession of excess marijuana in public?

The law of Colorado is very clear as to the amount of marijuana one can carry in public. There is no penalty if you are found to be in possession of marijuana and you have met the minimum age requirements of being 21 or older.

  • However, if you are found to possess more than 1 and up to 2 ounces, you will have committed a petty offence that attracts a fine of $100.
  • If you are found to be in illegal possession of marijuana between 2 to 6 ounces, you will have committed a level 2 misdemeanor and can be sentenced to up to 1 year imprisonment and a fine that does not exceed $700.
  • Illegal possession of 6 to 12 ounces of marijuana attracts imprisonment of up to 18 months and a fine ranging between $500-$5000.
  • If you are caught in possession of more than 12 ounces, you will have committed a felony and will be incarcerated for 1 to 2 years in prison and will have to pay a fine of up to $100,000.
  • If you are caught selling marijuana illegally, you will be sentenced to a minimum of 6 months in prison and have to pay a minimum of $5,000 fine. Depending on the amount you are caught with while selling, imprisonment time can go up to 32 years and the fine can go up to 1 million U.S. dollars.

In conclusion, even though the personal cultivation of marijuana has been legalized in Colorado, there are strict guidelines that need to be followed. Illegal possession of marijuana plants is a criminal offence and is punishable by law in Colorado. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Pollart Miller LLC to consult on your specific case.


5700 South Quebec St. Suite 200 Greenwood Village, CO 80111

Can You Possess Too Many Marijuana Plants in Colorado? On January 1, 2013, Colorado became the first place anywhere in the world to allow legal marijuana sales to anybody over 21 for any purpose,

Cannabis in Colorado – Laws, Use, and History

In 2014, Colorado legalised recreational cannabis use. Now, individuals can purchase cannabis from a licenced retailer, as long as the amount doesn’t exceed one ounce (28 grams). This law has resulted in a reduction in medicinal cannabis users (as it’s easier to obtain from a retailer than a doctor), and interestingly, fewer younger people are using it too.

    • Recreational cannabis
    • Legal
    • Medicinal cannabis
    • Legal since 2000

Cannabis laws in Colorado

The US is governed by federal and state laws. This article covers the cannabis laws in the state of Colorado. For US federal laws, please visit our other article.

Can you possess and use cannabis in Colorado?

In 2014, Colorado’s government made it legal to purchase, possess and use cannabis. The Colorado state law states that:

  • Individuals must be 21 years or over to buy, use or own it.
  • Cannabis must not be shared, sold or given to anyone under 21 years old.
  • ID must be shown when purchasing cannabis, to provide proof of age.

Additionally, cannabis can only be purchased from licenced retailers, and there’s a limit to how much the individual can buy or possess at one time. This is currently set at one ounce.

Adults over 21 years old may give as much as one ounce of cannabis to another adult (again, aged over 21), but they may not sell it to them. This is the case even if they’ve grown the cannabis themselves.

There are other restrictions laid out in the law. For example, it’s still illegal to use cannabis in a public place. This includes areas such as cafes, concert venues, amusement parks, and while walking along the pavement. It even includes communal areas in apartment buildings.

It’s also illegal to use cannabis on federal land, as cannabis consumption is still illegal under federal law. This means that it cannot be used in locations like national forests or parks.

While it’s legal to use cannabis at home, the law gives property owners (i.e. landlords) the right to forbid tenants to use or possess cannabis in their house or apartment. Hotel owners may also ban it in their premises.

Employer rights are protected too. Despite the fact that using cannabis is now legal in Colorado, employers can still test their staff for cannabis use. They’re also allowed to make employment decisions based on the result of the tests.

Driving and using cannabis

There’s a limit to how much THC (the substance in cannabis that’s responsible for the ‘high) drivers can legally have in their bloodstream while driving. If an individual is caught driving a vehicle while over the limit, they may be given a ‘driving under the influence’ or DUI charge.

The law states that drivers must have less than 5 nanograms of THC per millilitre of whole blood. This applies to those using medicinal cannabis too.

Additionally, there mustn’t be any open containers of cannabis in the car. If the security seal on the container (e.g. box or bag) is broken, and there’s evidence that some of the product has been used, then the driver can be charged with a traffic offence.

Cannabis laws differ from state to state. As such, it’s illegal to cross the Colorado border with any cannabis product. Likewise, it cannot be taken to any airport.

Can you sell cannabis in Colorado?

Under Colorado state law, licenced retailers are allowed to sell cannabis in Colorado. However, they must adhere to certain rules, which are:

  • Not selling to anyone below the age of 21 (ID must be seen).
  • Not letting anyone under the age of 21 enter the restricted area of the store.
  • Only selling during the hours of 8 am and midnight. Some areas of the state may require reduced hours.

Those selling or manufacturing cannabis products must ensure that the packaging is:

  • Resealable
  • Child-proof
  • Not see-through (the contents must not be visible)

All packaging must carry a specific symbol, as required by the Department of Revenue.


In 2013, the people of Colorado voted to add a 10% sales tax to all retail cannabis. This is in addition to the 2.9% standard sales tax rate for the state. A 15% excise tax was also added to the retail cannabis’s wholesale price. These taxes don’t apply to medicinal cannabis.

Can you grow cannabis in Colorado?

The state law permits individuals to grow cannabis at home. Up to six plants per person are permitted, with a maximum of three flowering at the same time.

There are a few important restrictions to be aware of:

  • As of 2018, the maximum number of cannabis plants that can be grown in one residence is 12. This is irrespective of how many people over the age of 21 live there.
  • Some counties may have stricter laws on growing.
  • All plants must be grown in a locked, enclosed area.
  • They must not be visible (this means they cannot be grown outside in the garden).
  • Minors must not be able to access the growing area.
  • If minors are living in the property, care must be taken to ensure that they don’t have any access to the plants.
  • Only licenced grow retailers can sell cannabis products.

Is CBD legal in Colorado?

The laws regarding CBD in Colorado are confusing. It’s still illegal at federal level, yet CBD products are sold in stores and online in many forms; as skincare products, as a supplement and in food.

However, the US’s FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has issued several ‘cease and desist’ letters to companies across the country, particularly targeting business who made “deceptive marketing” claims on their labelling.

The FDA has specifically said that CBD cannot be legally used as an ingredient in food or drink. This law applies in Colorado; however, given the prevalence of CBD products, it will be hard for US authorities to police the industry.

Can cannabis seeds be sent to Colorado?

Cannabis seeds can be legally purchased and used in Colorado. However, as laws differ from state to state in the US, mailing them in and out of the region is a legally ‘grey’ area. Technically it’s legal to have them sent into Colorado, though anecdotal reports suggest that they may be held up at customs.

Mailing cannabis seeds out of Colorado to other US states is illegal.

Medicinal cannabis in Colorado

In 2000, Colorado legalised medicinal cannabis. The law permits patients to access cannabis for medicinal purposes, providing they have consent from their doctor. Additionally, patients must have a Medical Marijuana ID card, which can only be obtained after proof of residency is given.

Doctors may recommend cannabis for treating the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • PTSD
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Plus any chronic or debilitating condition that produces one of the following symptoms:
    • Persistent muscle spasms
    • Seizures
    • Severe nausea
    • Severe pain
    • Cachexia

The law allows patients to possess up to two ounces of cannabis. Like recreational users, they can grow up to six plants (with only three flowering at one time). Doctors also have the right to recommend larger quantities for patients, if required.

The legalisation of recreational cannabis use resulted in a reduction of medicinal cannabis patients. In January 2014 (when recreational use was made legal), there were 111,030 registered medicinal cannabis patients in Colorado. By the end of 2018, that figure had dropped to 85,207.

This is because obtaining cannabis from a medical professional comes with certain obstacles. For example, the patient must visit their doctor annually, in order to keep being approved for the drug. They must also pay a $25 processing fee.

Industrial hemp in Colorado

The US Farm Bill (2018) made industrial hemp legal across the country. This means it’s legal to grow in Colorado. Indeed, since the law was passed, crop cultivation has doubled in the state.

However, not everyone is pleased with the change in federal law. For example, Eban Abshire, a small-scale hemp-grower in the state, comments: “I don’t think the Farm Bill is so good for us small growers. I think it’s going to open it up so that if you don’t have thousands of acres, you can get left out.”

The Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Programme regulates the cultivation of the plant, and also oversees a certified seed programme. It doesn’t get involved with any other aspects of hemp production, such as processing, selling or distributing.

Good to know

If you are travelling to Colorado (or currently live there), you may be interested to know the following:

  • The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that rates of cannabis use among 12 to 17 year olds was the lowest it had been since 2007/8.
  • Cannabis taxes make up around 1.52% of the state’s total tax revenue. Since legalising it, revenue from cannabis tax has more than tripled; from $67.6 million in 2014 to almost $245 million in 2018.
  • Since legalising cannabis, tourism in the state has grown by 51%.

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Cannabis history

Like most other states in the US, Colorado grew hemp until the late 19 th century. At the start of the 1900s, public opinion about cannabis started shifting. A nationwide smear campaign (led by media baron William Randolph Hearst) led to the substance being restricted across the country.

Alcohol was prohibited in Colorado in 1914. Three years later, the state chose to introduce restrictive laws relating to cannabis use. Then, in 1937, the nationwide Marihuana Tax Act meant the drug became illegal across the country.

The 1960s saw a resurgence in cannabis use, with the rise of the ‘hippy’ movement. By the 1970s, there were increased cannabis-related arrests and prosecutions, not to mention a significant rise in the length of prison sentences for offenders. This put a lot of pressure on the judicial system.

Attitudes started changing soon after. Pitkin County Deputy District Attorney James Moore was a notable figure in the fight to decriminalise cannabis. He raised awareness of the excessive costs involved with enforcing cannabis laws.

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Attitudes towards cannabis

Adult use of cannabis has increased in Colorado since it was made legal. This suggests that many of the state’s residents are accepting of the drug, particularly among younger people (the demographic that saw the largest boost in users).

Colorado’s health department has focused on educating residents about how to use cannabis safely and responsibly. Given that numbers of under-age users have dropped, the message seems to be getting through.

Colorado legalised cannabis use in 2014, and authorities are focusing on educating people on how to use the drug safely and responsibly – read on for more. ]]>