It has been nearly one month since Colorado implemented the first regulated “seed to sale” market for recreational marijuana in the world. The amount of media attention placed on Colorado is startling, and with that attention, people create misconceptions. It is important for people in Colorado to know what conduct is now allowed under state law and what conduct can still lead to criminal charges; as with any criminal charge, ignorance of the law is never a valid defense.
Possession of marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
After the passage of Amendment 64 and its creation of Section 16 to Article 18 of the Colorado Constitution, any person over the age of 21 in Colorado has a state constitutional right to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. However, under the federal Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. § 801), marijuana is illegal and classified as a Schedule I drug meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and has no current accepted medical use. Whenever a federal law directly conflicts with a state law (even the state’s constitution), the federal law “preempts” the state law and the federal law applies.
The United States Attorney General has implemented a policy of “wait and see” concerning Colorado’s marijuana market saying “the Justice Department should focus on countering and prosecuting violent crime, while respecting the will of the states whose people have voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal and medical use.” The statement includes a list of potential harms marijuana legalization may create, including increased use by minors and interstate trafficking, which may lead to a federal crackdown. You can view the entire Department of Justice memorandum here.
Open and public use of marijuana is illegal
Any use of marijuana that is open to the public is illegal and punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1000 fine. Further, Colorado amended the Clean Indoor Air Act to include marijuana (C.R.S. § 25-14-201), meaning that it is illegal to smoke anywhere that it is illegal to smoke cigarettes (bars, concert venues, restaurants, etc.).
The extent of what constitutes open and public use is still a legal grey area, but at this point the only place that someone may use marijuana is inside a house they own. Landlords may still evict a tenant from an apartment or house for using marijuana on the premises.
Driving after using marijuana is illegal
A conviction of an offense involving drugs can have long lasting and serious effects on your life. If you have been charged with an offense concerning marijuana, or any drug, you should consult experienced attorneys such as Peter Loyd Weber & Associates at (720)863-7755 as soon as possible. Call us for a free consultation to find out how we can help you with your case.