10 things to know about recreational marijuana

Posted on: 2:48 pm, December 28, 2013, by , updated on: 06:53pm, January 2, 2014

DENVER — Colorado now allows recreational marijuana sales to anyone age 21 or older.

Residents are able to buy marijuana like alcohol — except the cannabis purchase is limited to an ounce, which is substantial enough to cost $200 or more.

It’s a big moment. Colorado will become the first state to open recreational pot stores and the first place in the world where marijuana will be regulated from seed to sale. Pot, by the way, is the third most popular recreational drug in America, after alcohol and tobacco, according to the marijuana reform group NORML. This, of course, assumes you don’t count caffeine as a drug.

Here are 10 things to know about what will be a closely watched landmark law.

How can this be?

Voters wanted this. And the law is now in the Colorado constitution after 65% of voters said yes to legalizing recreational marijuana.

Colorado wasn’t the only state to OK this in November 2012. Voters in Washington also said yes, but that state won’t open marijuana retail outlets until later in 2014.


There are the usual “legalize it” arguments about how pot is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco and how legalization would save taxpayers $10 billion yearly on enforcing the prohibition.

Then there’s the reality we all know: There will be a tax bonanza to public treasuries.

Retail weed will have a 25% state tax — plus the usual state sales tax of 2.9% — making recreational pot one of the most heavily taxed consumer products in Colorado. Some communities are adding even more taxes to the product.

The additional revenue will initially amount to $67 million a year, with $27.5 million of it designated to build schools, state tax officials say.

So why bother with separate medical marijuana?

Because buyers of medical pot won’t face the additional taxes.

Medicinal weed in Colorado still requires a physician’s recommendation, and the dispensaries will be separate outlets from the recreational pot retailers.

How much recreational weed can I buy?

If you are 21 or older, you can buy up to an ounce at a licensed store, as long as you have a Colorado ID. People from outside Colorado can buy a quarter ounce.

Users can also share an ounce of cannabis with a friend as long as no money is exchanged. Resale is illegal.

How will retailers be regulated? 

More than 340 prospective marijuana retailers began to receive their licenses to sell from the state on Friday. But retailers will also need approval from the city or county in which they want to set up shop.

All told, only about 10 businesses will be ready to go on Jan. 1. In fact, there are concerns that pot shops will sell out on the first day, with so few stores having passed the lengthy licensing process. About 160 retailers are still seeking licenses statewide.

Cities including Fort Collins, Boulder and Aurora have indicated that they will allow pot sales eventually, but are waiting to see how things shake out first.

The city of Denver has set up an informational website explaining the many rules and regulations that pertain to this new industry: www.colorado.gov/marijuanainfodenver

Where can I light up?

You won’t be allowed to smoke pot in public and, in fact, can’t even smoke in the pot shop or other establishments governed by the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act.

That leaves the smoking to private properties, with the owner’s permission.

Communities and counties can still choose not to allow recreational marijuana stores in their local jurisdictions, and a good many towns have, such as Colorado Springs and Greeley.

Meanwhile, ski resorts are concerned about scofflaws lighting up while on the slopes, with smoke intruding on family settings.

Can I grow my own?

Yes, you can grow up to six plants in your home, but the pot patch must be enclosed and locked.

Can the underage be busted for pot?

Yes. It’s illegal to possess and use marijuana if you’re under 21, but the city of Denver this month decriminalized pot for people between ages 18 and 21. The city would keep the fines — but remove the jail time — for being caught with an ounce or less. The potential jail time had been up to a year.

Youths under age 18 could be sent to a juvenile assessment center, instead of jail. The measure ensures kids “don’t have to live into adulthood with mistakes they might have made when they were 19,” Councilman Albus Brooks said in a Denver Post article.

What about DUI?

A motorist in Colorado can be ticketed for impaired driving if his or her blood shows more than 5 nanograms of active THC, the active constituent of marijuana, NORML says on its website.

Some users will fall below that level three hours after consuming pot, but “some people will still be well above 5 ng,” NORML says. “Do recognize that the effects of alcohol and marijuana together may be more than the sum of their parts.”

Some analysts describe impairment as a guessing game, depending on the person.

“Is Colorado’s marijuana DUI rule flawless? Far from it. But as the state’s policymakers have come to realize, the world’s first legal pot rules aren’t going to be perfect. They just have to be good enough. Good enough to keep the feds away, good enough to keep marijuana stakeholders happy, good enough to keep Coloradans from worrying they’ve made a horrible mistake,” University of Denver law professor Sam Kamin and writer Joel Warner wrote in Slate this month.

What about the feds?

It’s always been a murky relationship between the feds and those states with laws authorizing medical — and now recreational — marijuana. Federal law says the drug’s possession, manufacture, and sale is illegal, punishable by up to life in prison, and its mass cultivation is a sensitive subject among growers, experts say.

But in August, the U.S. Justice Department said it won’t challenge Colorado or other states with laws legalizing recreational marijuana. Instead, federal officials will focus on serious trafficking and keeping the drug away from children.

However, it remains the policy of the Transportation Security Administration to seize any pot agents find in the airport, and Denver International Airport has announced it will not be changing its rules against pot.

Does this confuse you?

It should, one legal analyst says.

“They should be confused,” attorney Alan Dershowitz said. “The federal government still takes the position technically that you’re violating federal law if you’re complying with the state law. But the Obama administration, I believe, has recently has taken a turn on its approach to drug enforcement.”

CNN contributed to this report.


  • Andy says:

    # 11– It will be taxed so much that people will return to the illegal dealers.

  • Rob Cohen says:

    Plenty of people for sure will still buy from the black market, but the black market is unreliable and everyone is going to love this as an option, more money into the economy instead of just being tax free on the black market. so glad this is happening.

  • Michael says:

    A lot of people think the black-market will thrive but the fact is the risk involved to make a desirable profit is too much. Unless your crossing state lines or transporting lbs. to high school dealers (both highly ill advised) theres minimal payoff especially when pot is 30/8th.
    Ask any potdealer that tried to stay in the blackmarket over the last 10 years….if they arent in jail that is lol

  • WrongSideOfHeavenRighteousSideOfHell says:

    Dude pots 20-25 an 1/8th at dispensaries , it was $35 years ago that’s why the black market can’t keep up .

  • Black mrkt says:

    Why take the chance of using a blk mrkt and jail, if you can go get it legally. It will soon be like alcohol. Kids underage some will try on the black market. It makes no sense otherwise. Let’s worry about what we can control right now instead of guessing what ifs.

  • Kayla says:

    This is revolutionary!!! :) I love living a Mile High!!!

  • Courtney H. says:

    So if it will be “illegal” to smoke in public places, will venues like The Ogden Theatre and The Fillmore actually stop people from smoking in there? The pot smoking has gotten so bad at concert venues that I just don’t go anymore.

  • DaRueStir says:

    Happy days in Colorado, unfortunately here in Texas the governor and many of the politicians still live in the 1950s. I know of a few who suffer from epilepsy and ADHD who would benefit from legalization.

  • Mary Jane says:

    Don’t bother going up to Leadville. Politics and laziness got in the way, so they wont be opening until maybe February.

  • Ironman says:

    If you can grow six plants yourself why would someone pay 25% sales tax in a store.

  • SloCatch says:

    Ironman wrote

    “if you can grow six plants yourself why would someone pay 25% sales tax in a store”.

    Exactly, and if you grew 6 plants legally why go to the black market?

    This is good, finally some revenue for our needs. How about purchasing about 40 slurry bombers so we can save our State? Or perhaps controlling runoff water or both?

  • Pete says:

    I’m going to buy some “legal” pot on Jan 1st. In celebration of the event. I’ve been waiting for it to be legal ever since I started smoking weed back in the sixties. Finally, in my wonderful Colorado, the state of my birth and my home, it is legal! A great day!

    BTW Growing your own is not as easy as it sounds. Investment in seeds, grow tents, nutrients, lights, and your time, makes it much more expensive than just paying the tax. Not to forget the disappointment of failing the first few times, and the low yields. If you grow a couple plants, then look at it as a hobby. More than anything else.

  • B says:

    Because growing is not easy. It is a ton of work and a ton of knowledge to be able to grow good stuff.

  • herbal remedy says:

    I hope our state follows lead soon :) … Does anyone know if they will be selling seeds for growing too? Or where would the homegrower get the seeds or clones?

  • The TRUTH says:

    Herbal…you can get about anything you want Jan. 1 2014. Plants, seed, harvested MJ, pipes, bongs, vaporizers, etc. Any questions?

  • curious says:

    Where can you find the specific laws and details (fine print) by county, specifically larimer county for the new laws??? Couldn’t find anything at larimer.gov….

  • Rocky mountain high, Colorado!

  • spiffy@spiffmail.com says:

    Number one question: Assuming I pay cash, will there be any record of the purchase identifying me?

  • Lea says:

    when the first child ends up in the ER form pot where will you pot heads be then??? or one of us who is allergic…. no more driving in Denver for me

  • Tammilynnolgabremdamary says:

    “Number one question: Assuming I pay cash, will there be any record of the purchase identifying me?”

    Well, you’ll need to present a drivers license. And with Colorado’s compliance with the RealID Act, drivers licenses can now be read by rfid’s. Plus the numerous surveillance cameras each pot shop will have as mandated by laww.
    So you’d have to be willing to believe that the government will go through the trouble of trying to track you. That would never happen, would it?

  • Mary Jane says:

    Where do you get your information? There has never been a report of anyone dying from an overdose or killing anyone while driving high. Marijuana is much more safe than alcohol

  • RE: spiffy@spiffmail.com
    All purchases will be video taped with sound.
    Part of the new enforcement rules
    No big brother with this newly gained freedom.

  • kathleen chippi says:

    All cannabis sold Jan 1st was obtained via a state sanction theft of sick and dying patients property.

    Yes, the Constitution and the courts rule and they say the cannabis is the personal property of patients. How many millions of dollars are being stolen? The corruption in the war on cannabis lives on.

  • juan chavez says:

    How much will mj cost at dispencerys now

  • J wizzle says:

    Oh Lea, there’s always gotta be that one naysayer, I appreciate that. If you are allergic to lactose, do you not shop at supermarkets? There’s a ton of folks driving home from bars everyday, that pose a greater risk to you than the person who just smoked half a J. Remember green eggs and ham? Open your mind.

  • The TRUTH says:

    Poor Lea, doesn’t understand that everyone has already been drunk and high for the last couple hundred years. But I’m sure you text and drive and then drive 50 mph in the left lane of the highway. Oh yeah, you must be Obama’s biggest supporter.

  • Teacher says:

    So much for passing a drug test for work. That leaves more jobs for the rest of us.

  • stfudumbazz says:

    @Teacher There’s always detoxifyers and synthetic urine…The only cons in my opinion, are the added crime that comes with having pot shops in our community. Also the population increase we are going to experience. We were already in the top 5 in the nation for increasing population. Colorado is already over populated as it is since the first boom like 15 years ago when everyone and their g ma from Cali, Texas and Mexico moved in.

  • Shelley says:

    like Betty explained I can’t believe that a mother able to profit $5342 in a few weeks on the internet. check….. http://clockurl.com/Bds

  • aussiegoodness says:

    finaly they do something good!$$

  • howens says:

    price will be driven by supply and demand.

  • Peggy says:

    Like I have always said Drunk Drivers kill people, Pot Smokers may miss there exit. Lol I sure hope Ohio is in own it someday. You have got to remember who do you think put that plant on this earth. God !!!

  • Justin defridge says:

    These r the best Oreo cookies ever !!! Thanks Mary Jane

  • Jewell says:

    I understand, they have to make their tax profits, but from what I understand from a friends experience is that the weed is WAY over priced and also not as quality as the medical, and if that’s the case of course ppl are still going to go for the “black market” to get it. they need to make it so people don’t feel like theyre getting ripped off, so they can have their business

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