How To: Buy Retail Marijuana in Colorado
August 23, 2016
If you have questions about the framework and regulations supporting the purchase of recreational marijuana in Summit County, you'll likely find many of your answers here. Statutes, codes and other sources have been cited for those who wish to explore further any individual query.
Who can purchase recreational marijuana?
Anyone 21 and older, with a valid government ID, is allowed to purchase, smoke and possess marijuana in Colorado. Much like in a liquor store, individuals need to show an ID in order to make purchases. You can share with a friend, as long as you aren't getting paid in the process.
(Colorado Department of Revenue: Permanent Rules Related to the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code, p. 36, 48, section C)
Where and when can people purchase marijuana?
Licensed retail shops began selling recreational marijuana on Jan. 1, 2014. The shops were previously medical marijuana dispensaries and may or may not have chosen to continue to sell medical products in addition to retail products. The earliest brand-new retail shops can open is Oct. 1, 2014. Shops have hours mandated by the state, much like liquor stores, so no purchases can be made before 8 a.m.
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(Colorado Department of Revenue: Permanent Rules Related to the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code, p. 42, 48, section A; The Denver Post)
How much can individuals buy?
In a single transaction, Colorado residents can purchase up to 1 ounce, while out-of-state visitors can purchase 1/4 ounce. All adults 21 and older can possess up to 1 ounce on their person. Researchers have concluded the average joint contains slightly less than a half-gram of marijuana. An ounce is slightly more than 28 grams, so 1 ounce equals approximately 60 joints.
(Colorado Department of Revenue: Permanent Rules Related to the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code, p. 48, section D; The Denver Post)
How much does it cost?
In the medical-marijuana market, ounces run from $150 to close to $300. But the more common purchase amount is an eighth of an ounce, which costs around $25 to $45 for medical marijuana. Stores have set their own prices for retail products, but customers have to pay state and local taxes for the marijuana — 25 percent for the state, on top of a 5 percent excise tax in Summit County and other retail sales taxes. Most stores will only accept cash because banking regulations mean that marijuana stores commonly don't have access to banking services. People can make multiple purchases in the same day, as long as they do not exceed the 1-ounce limit.
(The Denver Post)
Why are marijuana stores having trouble with banks?
The issue is rooted in the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970, commonly called the Bank Secrecy Act, which regulates how banks must report and respond to transactions believed to be linked to illegal activity. Marijuana sales are sanctioned in Colorado by the state government, but they remain illegal federally, leaving banks and businesses in a legal limbo.
On Friday, Feb. 14, the Obama administration issued new guidelines pertaining to banks in relation to recreational and medical marijuana stores, but according to The New York Times, the banking industry responded that the new guidelines would not be sufficient to make banks feel at ease about opening accounts for or granting loans to marijuana businesses because the drug would still be illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
(The New York Times)
Where can people legally smoke or consume marijuana?
The only place it's 100 percent OK to consume marijuana is in a private residence, with permission from the owner. Most ski areas are on federal land, where marijuana use and possession is still illegal — same with national parks, national forests and national monuments. Hotels and resorts can institute their own smoking policies. Under Colorado's Clean Indoor Air Act, marijuana smoking isn't allowed anywhere that cigarette smoking is also banned. Consumption is specifically banned in any state-licensed marijuana facility.
(Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act; Colorado Department of Revenue: Permanent Rules Related to the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code, p. 49)
Can people take marijuana out of Colorado?
Definitely not. Every city and county in Colorado has its own marijuana regulations, so even transporting from place to place within the state can be tricky. It is still illegal to transport marijuana across state lines, even if it was purchased legally in Colorado. Denver International Airport announced it is against the law to take marijuana into the airport, as well.
(www.colorado.gov; The Denver Post)
How much money is the state making?
Business licenses cost anywhere from $2,750 to $14,000, plus local fees. In November, voters passed a 15 percent excise tax and 10 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana. That 25 percent state tax is expected to generate $70 million every year. The first $40 million will go toward school construction, and the rest will be used to regulate the marijuana business and put together educational campaigns.
(www.colorado.gov; Proposition AA)
Does anyone know who is purchasing marijuana?
Amendment 64 prohibits a list of marijuana purchasers, but customers will be on camera. The state's rules require shops have security cameras pointed at the cash register, the entrances and the exits.
(Amendment 64, p. 8, section C; Colorado Department of Revenue: Permanent Rules Related to the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code, p. 37)
How are marijuana sales monitored?
Colorado's seed-to-sale marijuana inventory tracking system doesn't track every plant. But businesses are required to record their process through the tracking system, which is meant to ensure the product does not get outside the state. Businesses are subject to audits or inspections by the state Marijuana Enforcement Division, as well. The marijuana must have a label that lists its potency and any nonorganic pesticides or fungicides used in its cultivation.
(The Denver Post; Colorado Department of Revenue: Marijuana Enforcement Division website; Colorado Department of Revenue: Permanent Rules Related to the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code, p. 92)
What can people grow?
Adults can grow up to six plants in their own home, three of which can be flowering at once, and in a locked, contained space. It is legal to keep the resulting harvest of the plants at home, even if the amount exceeds 1 ounce. Individuals can only transport 1 ounce or less. However, landlords are also allowed to create policies for their private properties.
(Colorado Amendment 64, p. 4, section 3)
Where do shops get their marijuana?
Until October 2014, retail marijuana stores must grow at least 70 percent of the product they sell. The first supply sold to customers starting on Jan. 1, 2014, came from a one-time transfer from the stores' medical marijuana supplies.
(Colorado Department of Revenue: Permanent Rules Related to the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code, pp. 22, 48, section A1)
What about safety concerns?
Many shops must be located at least 1,000 feet away from schools, and the state has mandated any marijuana products must be sold in childproof packaging. Certain marketing has also been banned, in hopes of limiting exposure to children. Sharing or giving marijuana to minors is a crime, which carries similar penalties as providing alcohol to minors.
(The Denver Post; Colorado Department of Revenue: Permanent Rules Related to the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code, pp. 2, 114)
Can employers still fire people from jobs for smoking marijuana?
Yes, employers still can fire workers for using it, on or off duty. State law gives employers total authority to impose any drug regulations they wish.
(The Denver Post)
Are people allowed to drive?
A state law creates a preset limit for drivers, similar to alcohol. Drivers with a reading of 5 nanograms of active THC in their systems will be considered impaired and will be cited. It is illegal to smoke or eat marijuana in a moving vehicle, but it may be carried as long as it is in a closed container.
(Colorado House Bill 13-1325; http://www.colorado.gov)