New Marijuana Possession Laws in Colorado and Washington

After the monumental recreational legalization victories last week in Washington and Colorado, it’s important for cannabis users in those states to know what exactly that means for them and the marijuana they may possess.

In Colorado, Amendment 64 is very explicit about marijuana possession:

NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW, THE FOLLOWING ACTS ARE NOT UNLAWFUL AND SHALL NOT BE AN OFFENSE UNDER COLORADO LAW OR THE LAW OF ANY LOCALITY WITHIN COLORADO OR BE A BASIS FOR SEIZURE OR FORFEITURE OF ASSETS UNDER COLORADO LAW FOR PERSONS TWENTY-ONE YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER:
(a) POSSESSING, USING, DISPLAYING, PURCHASING, OR TRANSPORTING MARIJUANA ACCESSORIES OR ONE OUNCE OR LESS OF MARIJUANA.
(b) POSSESSING, GROWING, PROCESSING, OR TRANSPORTING NO MORE THAN SIX MARIJUANA PLANTS, WITH THREE OR FEWER BEING MATURE, FLOWERING PLANTS, AND POSSESSION OF THE MARIJUANA PRODUCED BY THE PLANTS ON THE PREMISES WHERE THE PLANTS WERE GROWN, PROVIDED THAT THE GROWING TAKES PLACE IN AN ENCLOSED, LOCKED SPACE, IS NOT CONDUCTED OPENLY OR PUBLICLY, AND IS NOT MADE AVAILABLE FOR SALE.

The amount of one ounce of marijuana is an important marker in Colorado, as it is in Washington. Possession of anything over that amount is against state law, unless you are a registered medical cannabis patient, in which case the Colorado possession limit is 2 ounces.

Possession comes up again later in Amendment 64, in a section announcing the lack of protections for recreational users when it comes to employer discrimination:

(a) NOTHING IN THIS SECTION IS INTENDED TO REQUIRE AN EMPLOYER TO PERMIT OR ACCOMMODATE THE USE, CONSUMPTION, POSSESSION, TRANSFER, DISPLAY, TRANSPORTATION, SALE OR GROWING OF MARIJUANA IN THE WORKPLACE OR TO AFFECT THE ABILITY OF EMPLOYERS TO HAVE POLICIES RESTRICTING THE USE OF MARIJUANA BY EMPLOYEES.

Things are simpler in some ways in Washington, as I-502 does not allow any recreational home growing. According to a fact sheet on the new law released by The Washington State Liquor Control Board – who will oversee the marijuana industry - adults 21 years of age or older will be able to possess one ounce or less of usable marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana infused product in solid form or 72 ounces of marijuana infused product in liquid form. Adults will also be able to possess “marijuana-related drug paraphernalia.”

There are other limitations in the more tightly restrictive regulations in Washington that smokers should be aware of. Smoking in public is still against the law, though it’s just a civil citation, not a criminal offense.

The state-regulated sale of marijuana will still be some time in coming to both states as officials hammer out regulations, so most marijuana purchasing will be done on the black market, something that remains illegal in both states. But possessing an ounce or less of marijuana will be legal no matter where you got it from (if you are 21 or older), starting on December 6th in Washington and starting in Colorado whenever the Governor signs the law, which could be up to 30 days after election night.

- Joe Klare

photo by: ukhomeoffice
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