Wednesday, January 1, 2014

If You Plan To Smoke Pot in Colorado....and Other Laws You Need To Know About in 2014

Marijuana in Colorado
As of this morning, recreational marijuana use is legal here in the state of Colorado. If you plan to light 'em up, there are some nuances of the law that you're going to want to educate yourself about before you do it.

I encourage you to read up on the laws themselves, and consult an attorney if you have legal questions. (I have to say that, wink, wink)

- It's legal to possess an ounce or less and consume marijuana within state limits so long as you are over 21 years old.

- You can only buy an ounce at the most at a time.

- Recreational pot will be much more expensive than medical pot, mostly because of all the taxes being added. Actual prices will vary from shop to shop.

- If you buy some for someone else, you can absolutely share it with them (assuming they are also over 21), but the second money changes hands (even if they think they are just paying you back), it becomes a drug sale. Just don't.

- You can buy from multiple shops on the same day, but are only allowed to have in your possession one ounce at a time. The shops are not enforcing carry limits and the police have said they don't really intend to either, but if you get caught with more than an ounce, you'll be arrested.

- Marijuana possession and use is still technically forbidden by federal law, but it seems that the feds have no real interest in trying to enforce those laws. They are more concerned with enforcing laws prohibiting resale and transfer, interstate enforcement and underage use.

- Legally purchased marijuana must be consumed in the state. If you leave the state of Colorado, you are subject to the possession and use laws of whatever jurisdiction you enter.

- The marijuana available for recreational use will be lower "octane" than medical marijuana concentrations.

- There will almost certainly be a shortage. In fact, by the time I get this finished, many of the shops may be out of pot already. The same law making possession and use legal today also makes growing legal, so shops can only sell the inventory they already had on hand for medical use. Odds are they will run out fairly quickly.

- You cannot use marijuana in public places, and many public venues have specifically forbidden possession and use on their grounds. The airport in particular has forbidden marijuana as well as all ski resorts.

- If you are renting an apartment or house, whether you can possess and use is up to your landlord.

- If you own your own property, you can smoke indoors without an issue, but patio and backyard use is questionable. Front yard use is probably not legal, but we'll just have to see how the enforcement plays out.

- You can still lose your job and employers can place drug restrictions on employees. THC stays in your system as long as a month or more, and will show on tests. Even if you only use in your off hours, you can still be fired.

- At the current time, all marijuana purchases must be done with cash. Banks for the most part are refusing to allow shop owners to use banking services, including credit and debit card machines. Many shops do have ATM machines inside or nearby.

- There is nothing in the current law that requires shops to track purchases, but that could change. There are cameras required in every shop and legal ID must be shown to enter.

- People who travel here to purchase pot will be limited to a quarter of an ounce per day, and could have a harder time finding somewhere to smoke it since public smoking is prohibited and individual hotels and motels can set their own rules.

- You can be charged with a DUI for driving under the influence and use while driving is strictly forbidden. No one is exactly sure what the cutoffs will be for specimen testing on this, so basically just don't do it.

I think I hit most of the major points. There are a few resources out there with great Q and A sections and more details on the specifics of certain parts of the law.  Washington also is allowing recreational marijuana use, but I am not as familiar with those laws.

Other Laws
There are something like 40,000 new laws going into effect today. There's obviously no way that I can cover them all, so here are a few of them.

- There is now a fee of $95 or 1% (whichever is larger) of income being charged to adults who choose not to carry health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

- Many new treatments and services are required to be covered by health insurance plans, also under the ACA.

- The minimum wage is being raised in 14 states.

- In California, students can use bathroom facilities and join sports teams according to the gender they identify with, even if it is different than their gender at birth.  They also restricted firearms ownership among patients who have made threats to therapists, restricted fracking and will allow illegal immigrants to apply for driver's licenses. Nevada and Maryland will be issuing driver's licenses as well.

- Oregon will grant grieving family members two weeks paid leave after a death, allow mothers to take placentas home from the hospital after birth and prohibits schools and employers from demanding that students and employees surrender social media passwords.

- Arkansas, Alabama and Rhode Island all have new voter ID laws going into effect.

- Both Connecticut and New York are requiring registration of assault rifles and high capacity magazine weapons.

- Illinois banned drone usage without a warrant and prohibited them from interference with hunting and fishing. They also banned tanning bed usage by anyone under the age of 18.


  1. Important and informative update on the current marijuana laws in Colorado as well as other laws listed in this post.

  2. Thanks for the update. Lots of kerfuffling over that gender law here in Cali. I, on the other hand, think it is overdue.


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