Medical Marijuana Colorado

In terms of medical marijuana, Colorado used to be one of the more conservative states in the US until the year 2000, when Amendment 20, also known as the Colorado Medical Use of Marijuana Initiative was approved by almost 54% of voters. This amendment allowed qualifying patients to use medical marijuana for their treatment with prior approval and written consent from their physician.

2024 Update!

Go to the end of this article for the current legal position for the use of and possession of Cannabis in California at the start of 2024.

Later with Amendment 64 which was passed in 2012, marijuana was officially legalized in Colorado as of January 2014. After the official legalization, cannabis tourism which is a unique form of drug tourism, also emerged in Colorado, making it one out of the only two states in the US where it is seen, the other being Washington State.

Thus, both recreational as well as medical marijuana in Colorado became legal, although there are specific rules governing each of them. Additionally, there is also a third set of laws meant for the use and management of hemp, which is basically a certain variety of the marijuana sativa plant species and is normally specifically grown for industrial purposes.

Laws Governing Medical Marijuana

As per laws governing medical marijuana in Colorado, a qualifying patient is allowed to possess up to 2 ounces of medical marijuana and also cultivate up to 6 marijuana, 3 of which can be mature. According to the patient’s medical condition and the severity of the disease, the physician is allowed to recommend greater amounts of marijuana than the limit prescribed by the state as per Amendment 20, in which case the patient is entitled to the preparation of an affirmative defense.

medical marijuana in Colorado

Soon after the legalization of medical marijuana in 2000, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launched their Medical Marijuana Registry Program in 2001, which allowed qualifying patients to be registered under law with medical marijuana ID cards that prove their eligibility.

A state registry is also maintained carrying the details of all eligible patients. All registered patients are to receive the privileges and protection offered by the Colorado Medical Use of Marijuana Initiative.

In order to be a qualifying patient, a person must be diagnosed by a state-approved physician, with one of the debilitating medical conditions recognized by the medical marijuana laws in Colorado.  These medical conditions include:

The law also includes any other debilitating disease that may be deemed treatable with medical marijuana in the professional opinion of a state-approved physician.

Apart from being diagnosed with any of these medical conditions, the person must also be a resident of the state of Colorado and must possess a valid medical marijuana recommendation given by the state-licensed physician. You must also prove that you have a bona-fide doctor-patient relationship with the physician.

State-licensed Dispensaries 

There are state-licensed dispensaries that sell various types of marijuana and its products, from which patients as well as recreational marijuana users can purchase their required amounts. All of these dispensaries should obtain a valid license or approval to run  a business as part of the Colorado Medical Marijuana industry, from the local authority under which they operate.

In order to be eligible to operate a dispensary and to apply for the state medical marijuana business license, a person must be 21 years of age or older and be a resident of Colorado at the time of application and for the two preceding years, prior to the application.

They must also not have been convicted in a controlled-substance felony or any other felony that includes those which have not been fully discharged, in the past 5 years prior to the application. They should also not have a serious criminal history that may question the morality of the person’s character.

State-licensed Dispensaries

Additionally, they should not be a licensed and practicing physician, a police officer, a sheriff or a deputy sheriff or an employee of the state or local licensing authorities. The persons employed by the business owner to work at the dispensary should also show a clean criminal record. They are required to pass a criminal history record check and obtain a medical marijuana occupational license.

When it comes to the cultivation and storage of medical marijuana, Colorado is quite lenient. A qualifying patient or the appointed caregiver of the patient is allowed to grow up to 6 plants of medical marijuana, 3 of which may be mature.


The caregiver may be either a parent caregiver, a transporting caregiver who purchases and transports the required amounts of marijuana for treatment, or an advising caregiver who helps the patient in dosage and selection of products, or a cultivating caregiver who grows marijuana for use by the patient.

Each caregiver is allowed to care for up to 5 patients at a time and can cultivate a maximum of 36 marijuana plants.

Update: 2024

Penalties for Personal Possession and Use

You can go to the NORML website for restrictions and penalties applying to trafficking, sales or non-personal use. The following information concerns personal use and possession:

"Private possession by persons 21 years of age or older of up to two ounces of either cannabis flower or concentrates is no penalty. Private cultivation of up to six marijuana plants, with no more than three being mature is no penalty. Transfer of two ounces or less for no remuneration is no penalty.

Possession of more than 2 ounces is a petty offense that is may be punishable by a maximum fine of $100 and up to 24 hours of community service. Open and public displays, uses, or consuming 2 ounces of marijuana or less is a petty offense that is may be punishable by a maximum fine of $100 and up to 24 hours of community service.

Possession of more than 2 to 6 ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor, punishable by 3 months to 364 days imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $1,000.

Possession of more than 6 ounces is a misdemeanor, which is punishable by 6 – 18 months of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000."


NORML states on their website:

"There is no penalty in Colorado for persons who privately cultivate up to 6 marijuana plants, with no more than 3 being mature.

The cultivation of more than 6 but not more than 30 plants is a felony punishable by 6 – 18 months imprisonment as well as a maximum fine of $100,000."

Concentrates, Hashish and Hashish Oil

Private possession by persons 21 years of age or older of up to two ounces is no penalty.

Possession of more than 2 ounces but less than 3 ounces of hashish or extracts is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 dollars and/or a term of imprisonment between 6 months and 364 days.

Possession of more than 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate is a felony punishable by 6 – 18 months imprisonment as well as a maximum fine of $5,000.


Possession of paraphernalia is a drug petty offense that is punishable by a fine of up to $100. Note that drug paraphernalia does not include marijuana accessories. Examples include bongs, rolling papers, and roach clips.  You will be ok carrying your favourite vape on you.

New Conclusion, 2024

Colorado has  relaxed laws for personal use and possession of cannabis products and marijuana for both medical and recreational use since the passing of Amendment 20 in 2000 and then Amendment 64 in 2012.  The state has an insightfully relaxed attitude to marijuana and cannabis use but has penalties in place for possession of large quantities and illegal sale or distribution.

Colorado encorages individuals to buy quantities of cannabis products within the legal limit, "a policy that supports a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers can buy marijuana for personal use from a safe legal source."

The state has a program in place for expungement of previous possession convictions from a person's record where these would now be legal under the laws in place.  Colorado also has an approach of conditional release for those who are found to have exceeded the legal limits under the law, if it is a first offense: "This state has enacted legislation explicitly providing the opportunity for those with marijuana convictions for activities that have since been decriminalized/legalized to have past marijuana convictions expunged, vacated, otherwise set aside, or sealed from public view."

Colorado also has enacted  medical marijuana laws for approved conditions. 

In short, Colorado is one of the best states to be living in for the legal use of cannabis and marijuana products for personal use, with no issues in being able to order an approved, quality product  from your favorite supplier and have it delivered to your door!

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  1. Been reading some of your articles and must say pretty nice stuff. Bookmarked your website.

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