When talking about marijuana in the US, the first state that would probably come to mind is Colorado. After all, the Centennial State was the first to make weed legal. This change to Colorado’s marijuana laws proved to be hugely beneficial to the state in more ways than one. In fact, the state’s weed industry had reportedly raked in $2.2 billion in 2020, despite the pandemic while cannabis companies made more than $6.5 billion in sales over the last five years. Colorado also has the highest per-person sales of all states, with people buying around $280 worth of cannabis per year. Early this year, the state also issued its first recreational marijuana delivery permit, after HB 19-1234 allowed marijuana businesses to transport their products to retail customers in 2019.
Strangely enough, at a time when marijuana advocates in other states are busy working to remove THC limits from medical marijuana laws, Colorado may actually put the cap back on, so to speak. This month, State Rep. Yadira Caraveo revealed that she will be introducing a bill that will have a provision that would ban marijuana with THC levels of above 15%. This supports a recent report by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment which says that the use of marijuana with THC levels of around 12 to 18% is associated with a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder in adulthood, regardless of childhood cannabis abuse status. The report also mentioned that consumption of high-potency concentrates among younger people had been increasing.
While there is a slim chance that the proposal will get through without being significantly carved down, it could significantly change the state’s marijuana industry if the bill gets passed with the provision intact.
This article was reviewed and updated for 2021.
- Overview of Cannabis Growing Laws in Colorado
- History of marijuana in Colorado
- Growing medical marijuana in Colorado
- Marijuana for minors in Colorado
- Get with the program
- Buying seeds
- Marijuana home cultivation laws outside of Colorado
- FAQs about growing marijuana in Colorado
Overview of Cannabis Growing Laws in Colorado
Typically, there are different rules for growing medical and recreational marijuana. However, Colorado’s marijuana growing laws have the same plant growing limit for both. At the very least, adults aged 21 and over have the right to:
- Grow 6 plants but only 3 should be mature at a given time.
- Grow up to 12 plants per residence, regardless of the number of adults living there.
- Plants must be grown and kept in a locked space in your residence. This means no outdoor growing.
However, a patient or caregiver may raise as an affirmative defense to charges of violation of state law so long as it can be justified that such amounts were needed to address the patient’s disabling medical condition. If you grow any more than 6 and you’re not a licensed cannabis business, that’s an automatic violation.
Additionally, local laws may further restrict or relax these growing rules.
This was last updated in June 2020. We will be updating this guide with new developments that may come out.
Punishments for Violating Colorado’s Home Grow Laws
The penalties for violating Colorado marijuana growing laws are pretty steep. So remember, “Just use it, don’t abuse it.”
- It is a Level 1 drug misdemeanor for those under 21 to grow 6 plants or fewer. This is punishable by a prison sentence of 6-18 months and a fine between $500-$5,000.
- Meanwhile, adults caught growing more than 6 but under 30 plants can get charged with a Level 4 drug felony. This can get you 6 months to 2 years in prison as well as a fine between $1,000-$100,000.
- Grow more than 30 plants without having is a level 3 drug felony punishable by 2-6 years imprisonment as well as a fine between $2,000-$500,000.
This guide was last updated in June 2020. We will be updating this guide with new developments that may come out.
History of marijuana in Colorado
Colorado has always been a cannabis pioneer. It was one of the first to decriminalize weed in 1975, along with Alaska, Maine, Ohio, and California. While it legalized medical marijuana a little bit later than California in 2000, both states were still the first ones to legalize weed for recreational purposes in 2012.
Possession and use under Amendment 64 & 20
Under Colorado’s Amendment 64 which addresses the recreational use of marijuana, all residents are free to grow up to 3 mature and three immature plants in a locked space at home. You can also legally keep all the usable marijuana you harvest from your plants. Like most other weed states, residents can also legally carry up to one ounce of buds and 8 grams of concentrates and give as a gift up to the same amount to other citizens 21 years of age or older. The same rules on alcohol consumption apply to marijuana in Colorado, with equivalent offenses prescribed for driving under the influence.
Meanwhile, Amendment 20 allows medical marijuana cardholders and registered caregivers to carry 2 up to ounces of flowers and 57 grams of concentrates.
Growing medical marijuana in Colorado
Growing recreational marijuana in Colorado is pretty straightforward. Adults are allowed to grow indoors 3 mature plants and 3 immature ones indoors. Everybody has this right. However, the same rule applies to medical marijuana patients and their caregivers, so why is there even a need to register under the program?
Well, aside from being allowed to carry a larger amount of marijuana, there are a couple more allowances only registered patients have:
- Minor patients can use medical marijuana only if they are registered in the program.
- Patients can have designated caregivers to grow for them.
- Patients may jointly grow not more than 6 plants with their caregivers, but only if they can prove that they need more for their debilitating condition.
- Under certain cases, patients and caregivers can grow more than 12 plants at their residence, provided that local laws allow it. If not, then it should be grown in a location that is not the patient’s home where local law permits it.
Caregivers growing marijuana in Colorado
Caregivers have a bit more allowance and protection under Colorado’s marijuana laws:
- They can be as young as 18.
- Caregivers with multiple patients can grow and transport as many as 36 plants, more if their patient’s condition needs it. According to the law, they may be allowed to grow as many as 99 if certain requirements are met.
Marijuana for minors in Colorado
Minors can only be given medical marijuana if they registered cardholders. They are only eligible to apply if they have a qualifying medical condition and their primary parent is a Colorado resident. This is very important to note since giving or selling marijuana to a minor unregistered in the program carries with it heavy penalties.
- 1 oz or below is a Level 4 drug felony punishable by 6 months to 2 years imprisonment and a fine of $ 1,000 – $ 100,000.
- More than 1 oz but not exceeding 6 oz is a Level 3 drug felony punishable by 2 to 6 years imprisonment and a fine of $ 2,000 – $ 500,000.
- Any more than 6 oz but not exceeding 2.5 lbs is a Level 2 drug felony punishable by 4 to 16 years imprisonment and a fine of $ 3,000 – $ 750,000.
- More than 6 oz but not exceeding 2.5 lbs is a Level 1 drug felony punishable by 8 to 32 years imprisonment and a fine of $ 5,000 – $ 1,000,000.
Get with the program
If the 6 plant limit is enough for you and you feel that you need additional protection from the authorities, here’s how you can register in Colorado’s medical marijuana program:
To qualify, you have to be a Colorado resident aged 18 or older with a qualifying medical condition. For minors, both parents have to be Colorado residents.
- A valid Colorado ID (ex. driver’s license).
- Your social security number.
- Your caregiver’s registration ID (for those applying with caregivers)
- Credit card or bank account and routing number for payment of fees.
- Physician’s certification
You can easily apply online on Colorado’s Medical Marijuana portal and upload the requirements there. Make sure that your documents are either in JPG or PDF format.
Application for minors and legal representatives of adults have a few more requirements to submit:
- Primary parent’s Colorado driver’s license or ID.
- Minor’s social security number.
- Primary parent’s social security number.
- Certified copy of the minor’s state-issued birth certificate.
- Caregiver’s registration ID if the parent is not the caregiver.
- Documentation to prove secondary parent status:
- Secondary parent’s out of state ID if the parent lives out of state.
- Copy of the secondary parent’s certified death certificate if the parent is already dead.
- Copy of a certified court-issued sole custody order if the secondary parent does not have any custody.
- Minor patient consent form
Legal representatives of adults:
- Patient’s application requirements
- Legal representative’s Colorado driver’s license or ID.
- Legal representative’s social security number.
- Copies of certified legal representative documentation, medical power of attorney documents, or certified court orders.
- Caregiver’s registration ID if the legal representative is not the caregiver.
Before submitting all your requirements, check that all of them have been properly prepared. Follow these tips to ensure that your application gets processed without a problem.
Those who wish to apply as caregivers under Colorado’s marijuana laws have to be residents 18 and over. Patients, their physicians, and licensed marijuana businesses are not qualified to be primary caregivers. All you need to do to register is to provide the needed information in Colorado’s medical marijuana caregiver registration system.
Although marijuana might be plentiful in Colorado, the number of dispensaries selling seeds seem to be dwindling. This is probably due to the fact that they can only sell a limited amount of seeds per day. It is also far more convenient to buy marijuana seeds online. In our article Where to Buy Marijuana Seeds and What I Bought you’ll see that online seed banks have way more strain choices and transactions are also almost completely anonymous and your package is delivered right to your doorstep. Dispensaries will definitely have a harder time competing with the kind of service and convenience provided by online seed sellers.
Marijuana home cultivation laws outside of Colorado
How does Colorado’s marijuana laws compare with home growing laws in other US states? Check out our post on Marijuana Growing Laws in the United States.
FAQs about growing marijuana in Colorado
Yes it is legal to grow recreational cannabis at home in Colorado.
The law allows residents of legal age to grow 6 plants for recreational purposes, but only 3 can be mature at a given time.
Yes it is legal to grow medical marijuana at home in Colorado.
The cultivation limit for both medical and recreational marijuana is the same: 3 mature (flowering) plants and 3 immature ones.
In a locked place on any property as long as the grower has the consent of the property owner in writing. The plants should be kept away from public view.
Recreational growers have to be at least 21 years of age and caregivers as young as 18 to be able to legally cultivate marijuana in Colorado.
Colorado’s marijuana laws were crafted in such a way that its residents can have easy legal access to weed. It also makes sure that those who need more can get more, but only through the proper channels. Here are a couple of important takeaways that you should always keep in mind if you want to grow medical or recreational cannabis for your own consumption:
- Grow only 3 mature plants and 3 seedlings at a time.
- Grow indoors, never outdoors. Keep your grow site locked and secured.
- Never use or sell in public.
- If you need medical marijuana, register for a medical marijuana card.
- Always be aware of the growing laws in your city or county.