Marijuana dispensaries in Colorado
Marijuana dispensaries in Colorado
Cannabis Dispensaries in Colorado
Colorado was among the first states to enact prohibition against cannabis at the start of the 20th century — and at the beginning of the 21st century, Colorado was among the first to fully legalize cannabis. Thanks to its early legalization efforts, Colorado has become a canna-tourism hot spot, and its metropolitan areas are teeming with people eager to take advantage of its tolerant cannabis laws.
Colorado Cannabis Laws to Know
Colorado legalized cannabis for medical treatment in 2000 with voter approval of Amendment 20, and Colorado legalized cannabis for recreational, adult consumption in 2012 with Amendment 64. Not all counties or cities in Colorado are compelled to allow cannabis sales or consumption within their borders; larger cities and tourist towns tend to have more permissive cannabis regulations, while more rural parts of the state might maintain strict prohibition.
Recreational and Adult-Use Cannabis
Amendment 64 allows adults aged 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of bud or cannabis-infused products like edibles or up to 8 grams of concentrates. The amendment also allows for the home cultivation of six total cannabis plants, only three of which may be in flower. While adults are permitted to give up to an ounce away for free, any sales of cannabis products must take place through a licensed Colorado dispensary. Colorado does not offer reciprocity for their medical marijuana program, meaning out-of-state cardholders only have access to recreational dispensaries.
While Amendment 20 allows medical patients to use cannabis, it did not initially create any system for patient registration or legal, safe access to cannabis. Today, Colorado’s Department of Health recognizes a list of conditions that qualify patients for medical marijuana access through the Medical Marijuana Registry (MMR). Adults 18 and older can apply on their own, and minors can apply with the consent of an adult caregiver. Patients can possess up to two ounces of cannabis, which they can purchase from a Colorado dispensary or they can grow using the same cultivation regulations as recreational users. Often, medical dispensaries offer more potent cannabis products than are available through recreational cannabis stores.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Colorado
Patients in need of cannabis treatment apply for an MMR card online. Applications require physician certification of medical need, which patients acquire through the MMR portal. Patients also need to submit a copy of photo ID to prove identity and residency within Colorado and pay a $25 processing fee. Cards are usually issued within three to seven days, but it can take between six and eight weeks for patients who opt to send physical copies of their documents through the mail.
Recommending physicians set expiration dates for MMR cards, which can expire anytime from 60 days to one year from issuance; patients will need to renew their cards within 30 days of expiration, which requires an additional physician certification.
Where Is It Legal to Consume Cannabis in Colorado?
Colorado restricts cannabis consumption to private spaces, with the exception of motor vehicles. Property owners have the option to ban cannabis possession, so tenants should check their leases or talk to their landlords before visiting a Colorado dispensary.
Some cities do allow cannabis businesses to license themselves as a “hospitality establishment,” in which adults can buy and consume cannabis products. Sometimes called lounges or tasting rooms, Colorado dispensaries of this sort are relatively rare but increasing in number.
How to Buy Cannabis at a Colorado Dispensary
Typically, a Colorado dispensary is divided into two sides: one for recreational users and one for medical patients. Patients will need to present their valid MMR card and photo ID to make purchases. Different cities have different laws regarding when dispensaries can serve customers, with some requiring dispensaries to close in the evening and others permitting 24-hour operation. Likewise, different cities have differing rules regarding home delivery and curbside pickup, though more cities are permitting these dispensary services.
How Much Does Cannabis Cost in Colorado?
Colorado has notoriously low cannabis prices compared to other states. It is possible to find dry flower from a Colorado dispensary for less than $10 per gram, though the average price is about $12 per gram. Concentrates and extracts will cost more, depending on the product and quality.
Colorado Cannabis Taxes
Medical cannabis purchases are subject to a 2.9% sales tax, which is imposed on all sales of goods or services. Recreational cannabis purchases, on the other hand, are subject to a 15% sales tax as well as a 15% excise tax. Tax revenues collected from cannabis sales are distributed:
To local governments, according to their percentage of retail cannabis sales
To the State Public School Fund, to equip and staff public schools
To the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Fund, which further supports public schools
To the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund, which is used for various cannabis-related initiatives
To the General Fund, which pays for most state government programs.