In this article, our Colorado criminal defense attorneys answer these frequently-asked-questions:
And home growers may not keep more than 12 marijuana plants in their residence, even if more than two adults live there.
3. What are the penalties for illegal cultivation?
A common defense to marijuana cultivation charges is that the police found the plants through an illegal search and seizure. If the defense attorney can show the judge that law enforcement violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights, then the judge may suppress all evidence of the plants. And this may leave the D.A. with too little evidence to prosecute.
Colorado marijuana law permits adults 21 and older to home grow up to six cannabis plants in a residence as long as:
Colorado law permits adults 21 and older to grow up to 6 marijuana plants , with no more than 3 being mature plants. Homes with two or more adults can have no more than 12 marijuana plants . A first-time offense of possessing more than 12 plants is a level 1 drug petty offense, punishable by up to $1,000.
A first-time conviction of growing more than 12 plants is a level 1 drug petty offense under Colorado state law, punishable by up to $1,000.
But if there were more than 24 plants , a subsequent illegal cultivation offense is a class 3 drug felony. The sentence is two-to-four years in Colorado State Prison and/or fines of $2,000 to $500,000. But the prison term becomes four-to-six years if there are aggravating factors . Examples are if the defendant was:
Possessing more than 12 marijuana plants in a residence is a Colorado crime.
1. How much marijuana can I grow in Colorado?
If a person under 21 lives in the home, the area where the marijuana is grown must itself be enclosed and locked . And if a person under 21 enters the home, access to the homegrown marijuana must be reasonably restricted from him or her. 1.
People in the marijuana business who violate the law face not only criminal penalties . There also may be civil penalties imposed by the applicable agencies and the Department of Revenue. 8.
Note that people under 21 convicted of possessing pot or of marijuana use face a petty offense charge for being a minor in possession (CRS 18-6-701). Penalties increase with each successive conviction:
The wait time to seal criminal records in Colorado depends on the type of conviction.
2. Can people under 21 grow marijuana?
Colorado’s application fee for a cultivation facility is $4,000. The annual renewal fee depends on the number of marijuana plants. 9.
Each cultivation facility is assigned a different tier depending on the number of plants it has:
The maximum 12-plant per household rule applies to card-holding medical marijuana patients and caregivers, but there are exceptions. Patients can possess up to 24 plants at home if they:
No. Colorado law prohibits people under 21 years of age from growing or possessing recreational marijuana.
Denver, in particular, is now considering allowing permanent walk-up and drive-thru windows.
The MED also implemented new emissions testing standards for vaporizer products that become effective on January 1, 2022. The rule requires that a licensee submit every produced batch of regulated marijuana concentrate in a vaporized device to an accredited Colorado laboratory to be tested for metal contamination via emissions testing. Heavy metals can contaminate crops in several different ways during the cultivation and production processes.
Before 2021, all managers and employees of a medical or retail marijuana business with day-to-day operational control had to be Colorado residents when they applied for licensure. HB20-1 080, which was passed in 2020, repealed that requirement.
On March 21, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed SB 21-111 that establishes the new Cannabis Advancement Program, which the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (“OEDIT”) will oversee. The bill provided that the new program will be supported with $4 million in loans, grants, and technical assistance for marijuana business applicants that qualify under the state social equity program. State marijuana tax revenue will be used to fund the program.
HB 19-1234, passed in 2019, created marijuana delivery permits for licensed medical marijuana centers and licensed retail marijuana stores, allowing these businesses to deliver marijuana products directly to consumers. Medical marijuana delivery was allowed in 2020, but recreational marijuana delivery was not allowed until the start of 2021. The act gives the state ultimate rule-making authority over the permit and delivery systems. However, municipalities chose whether to enact delivery systems.
Colorado has a reputation for being one of the most progressive states in passing reforms to marijuana laws. Colorado’s legal framework has cultivated a booming billion-dollar marijuana industry that presently makes up 2% of the state’s budget. However, like all other states, Colorado did not begin with an accepting view of marijuana usage.
The MED can implement and enforce these rules independently of the state legislature because it is granted regulatory and enforcement power over the state’s medical and retail marijuana industries. Colorado implemented several waste measures to curb the environmental impact the marijuana industry produces. This impact is quite substantial: the marijuana industry produced 3,650 tons of marijuana plant waste in 2019. The MED opened several avenues around the state’s 50/50 requirement, requiring that unused plant matter can be mixed with other materials such as sawdust, bleach, and coffee grounds as long as the marijuana-to-waste ratio is 50/50.
Previously, those convicted had to file a petition with the court, which included notifying the district attorney’s office that charged them and additional court hearings. Under the new law, those seeking to seal their records must still file petitions in court; however, courts are now automatically required to seal the convictions so long as all the criteria are met. This streamlined process only applies to citizens that have not been convicted of another crime since their release from probation or parole.
Colorado was actually among the first states to criminalize marijuana. In 1917, Colorado legislators made the use and cultivation of marijuana a misdemeanor, but criminalization did not last long compared to other states. In 1975, Colorado also became one of the first states to decriminalize marijuana. A couple of decades later, in 2000, Colorado voters passed Amendment 20, which amended Colorado’s Constitution to allow for the use of medicinal marijuana in the state for approved patients with medical consent.
Coroners must also order a toxicology screen to test for THC in non-natural deaths of those under 25 under the bill. The Department of Public Health and Environment must compile a report on hospital discharge data that identifies patients who display conditions or diagnoses reflecting marijuana usage. Also, the purchase limit on concentrates for both medical and recreational purchasers would be reduced from 40 grams to 8 grams per day. Finally, the bill would require doctors who recommend medical marijuana to review a patient’s mental health history in addition to the already required analysis of their physical health.
These exceptions will substantially help marijuana businesses’ bottom line because most commercial composting companies charge by the pound for pick-ups. Also, the new rules allow customers to recycle marijuana packages purchased from different stores and included a provision allowing marijuana businesses to reuse the packaging if the packaging has been sanitized and is equipped with sufficient child restraints.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MED decided to make walk-up and drive-up windows, once thought to be a temporary measure, a permanent option for marijuana businesses to encourage social distancing. Marijuana businesses must apply for a permit to make such a window, and they cannot display marijuana at the windows. Also, stores must have a video surveillance system that enables recording the patient’s identity and recording an employee verifying the customer’s identification.
On May 21, 2021, Jared Polis signed a bill that increases the legal amount of cannabis an adult can possess from one to two ounces. The new law took effect immediately. Polis announced that he would begin reviewing records to prepare additional pardons for a person convicted of possessing between one and two ounces of marijuana. The law also included a streamlined process for sealing the records of people convicted of possessing between 1 and 2 ounces of marijuana.
The law provides a statewide definition for social equity licenses, declaring that an eligible licensee is a Colorado resident who can demonstrate: (1) residency for 15 years in an area designated as an opportunity or a disproportionally impacted, according to the Marijuana Enforcement Division (“MED”), between 1980 and 2010; (2) the applicant or an immediate family member was arrested for or convicted of a cannabis offense; or (3) their household income does not exceed 50% of the state median income for their household, which the Colorado Department of Revenue determines each year.
In 2012, Colorado, along with Washington, became the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana following the passage of Amendment 64, another voter ballot measure. Thus, recreational legalization took effect in 2012, and state-licensed retail sales commenced in 2014, creating the cannabis industry that is readily recognizable in Colorado today. Currently, residents and visitors aged 21 and older can possess up to one ounce of marijuana, and residents can grow up to 12 cannabis plants at home for personal use.
Under these new rules, marijuana growers can send their leftover stalks, leaves, and other unusable plant matter to facilities for anaerobic digestion, which is an accelerated composting process that captures the emitting gases. This is a superior method to composting because, while composting does recover nutrient value from the plant material, it still releases gases into the atmosphere. Biocharring is the process of burning plant material into nutrient-dense charcoal that can be used as a cultivation additive. Biomass gasification is a thermochemical conversion of plant matter into usable gases.
To be eligible for assistance under the program, an applicant must prove one of the following: (1) the War on Drugs negatively impacted them or their families; (2) they earn less than 50 percent of the state median income; or (3) they are a resident from a community designated as a low-economic opportunity zone. The law authorizes OEDIT to oversee the program and allocate funding amongst applicants. However, OEDIT is still required to establish its policies under the program with other relevant state agencies, industry experts, the Colorado Economic Development Commission, and other stakeholders.
The MED passed several new rules that went into effect in 2021, most simply being a codification of past practice.
MED set forth new procedures for a licensee’s recall of marijuana. The new rule mandates that a licensee must have a written recall plan. Also, the MED overhauled its sampling procedures for marijuana testing, including adjusting the minimum number of sample increments to be collected depending on what marijuana product is being sampled. Finally, a rule was adopted to reinstate a license that was expired for less than 30 days.
For instance, the soil, water, fertilizers, nutrients, and pesticides can contaminate marijuana during the growing process. Furthermore, machinery and equipment used in the production process and equipment used to package marijuana vaporizers can contribute to contamination. This testing is pivotal because heavy metals have been linked to various adverse health outcomes, including increased cancer risk, causing adverse reproductive effects, and accumulating to alter the functions of vital organs in the human body.
Under the law, social equity licensees can participate in the state’s accelerator licensing program, which pairs the social equity licensee with existing cannabis businesses to learn the tools of the trade. The social equity licensee must hold at least a 51 percent ownership stake in any marijuana business that the license is granted for. Also, the law gives licensees reductions for the hefty application and licensee that currently total $7,000.
HB 1317, a bill concerning the regulation and effects of high-potency THC products, awaits the governor’s approval after it passed the Senate unanimously and without much opposition in the House. The bill proposes sending the Colorado School of Public Health $1 million per year over a three-year period to conduct a study of existing research on the impact of high-potency THC marijuana and concentrates on physical and mental health and to fill in the gaps of that resulting research.
Aurora and Denver are the only cities that have approved marijuana delivery programs. Aurora decided to implement its delivery program with a focus on social-equity applicants. Only social-equity applicants will be able to receive a delivery license for the first three years of the plan, and the application fees for the delivery license are mostly covered with a city grant. Deliveries are limited to one per day, cannot be more than one ounce or eight grams of marijuana concentrate, and cannot be made to college campuses. Permits granted are valid for one year.
The new MED rules offer marijuana licensees four alternative methods to be exempt from the 50/50 requirement: (1) on-site composting; (2) anaerobic digestion; (3) pyrolyze into biochar; or (4) biomass gasification. The last three options merit explanation if you’re not up to date in environmental phraseology.
One of the most notable laws passed in 2021 was the creation of a statewide equity program for permitting. Similar programs implemented in states like Illinois might have influenced Colorado to pass this law. The equity program provides cannabis social equity licenses and support services, like mentorship programs and financial incentives, for aspiring business owners to kickstart their cannabis businesses.
Also, the licensee must consider any expiration dates of additives used to make the vaporizer, the vaporizer’s final formulation, and the vaporizer’s ideal storage conditions when determining expiration dates. Licensees must create business records of their expiration date determinations and any data used to make those determinations.
The law has additional provisions advancing social equity goals. The law gave the governor the power to grant pardons to those convicted of possessing up to one ounce of marijuana. Colorado Governor Jared Polis immediately acted on this bestowed power, pardoning more than 2,700 people in October 2020. Also, the law modified the felony requirement for licensure, mandating that a cannabis conviction cannot serve as the sole basis for license denial. Despite its socially equitable aims, some have criticized the bill for coming too late as the cannabis marketplace has been established in Colorado for seven years, making the existing barriers to marketplace entry challenging for socially disadvantaged persons to overcome.
The MED also implemented new emission testing and storage requirements for vaporizer products. Effective July 1, 2022, a marijuana products manufacturer that produces marijuana vaporizer devices must establish expiration dates for the products. The new rule mandates that potency and contaminant must be used to determine the expiration date.
Interested in learning more about the Colorado cannabis laws effective in 2021? Contact the experienced cannabis lawyers at Newburn Law today!
You will want someone to answer your questions, prepare your case if needed, and remove the legal burden.
Those cultivating marijuana need to understand that there are special considerations regarding minors and cultivating marijuana in homes and facilities. Specifically:
Austin is professional, approachable, and highly skilled in criminal defense. He has an outstanding ability to negotiate with district attorneys and law enforcement members, handle everyday and explosive cases in the courtroom, and always stand up for clients.
As with home growing situations, the rules are different for medical marijuana facility cultivation.
If a person is concerned about where they stand regarding existing or future compliance with cultivation regulations, they should contact a Colorado attorney with experience in marijuana cultivation crimes.
Minors and Colorado Marijuana Cultivation Laws.
However, the knowledge often stops there. There remains ample confusion regarding cultivation regulation. Here is everything you need to know relating to Colorado marijuana cultivation laws and what to do if you are being charged with a drug charge.
Colorado marijuana cultivation laws for facilities have additional considerations. These laws involve:
The Lux Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Lead attorney Austin Lux transitioned from his work as a county prosecutor into criminal defense private practice.
Some Colorado criminal lawyers may have an idea of penalties for violations and how to defend against charges. However, given the complexity of Colorado marijuana cultivation laws, Coloradans who believe they need legal help in this arena need to reach out to a top-notch law firm with experience.
When law enforcement charges a person with a violation of homegrown Colorado marijuana cultivation laws, they should urgently reach out to a cultivation defense firm.
Costs for the application and licensure in total can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. The license application fee for growers, processors, and dispensaries is per facility and per license type. To stay compliant with the law, facilities must remain current with yearly renewals.
Therefore, when facilities violate Colorado marijuana cultivation laws, the penalties may well surpass those of home growers and may come from various agencies and judicial jurisdictions.
Based on the amount one has above the legal limit and other factors (such as whether the person has prior convictions), one may face:
The specifics citizens should keep in mind include that:
There is no penalty in Colorado for persons who privately cultivate marijuana within the legal limits. But if one violates those limits, tough laws regarding drug felony penalties may address the consequences.
Consequences of Violating Colorado Marijuana Cultivation Laws.
As with all states, Colorado has numerous laws to protect juveniles from abuse and neglect and lead them away from delinquency.
The law also drives the point home by adding that those working in a facility cultivating marijuana must be age 21 or older. The endpoint is this: If you are cultivating marijuana in the home or a facility, make sure there is no connection to or access available for minors under the age of 21.
Some of their advice includes that home growers:
However, do not take these helpful hints to indicate that Colorado is lenient regarding the violations of marijuana cultivation laws. Just how serious are they in this regard?
Those who are growing marijuana in their home or at a facility, especially if they fear being in trouble with the law, have a reason for concern.
Following the passing of this Amendment came regulations regarding many things, including marijuana cultivation. Here is where some of these laws stand now.
Based on the number of marijuana plants the facility intends to cultivate, the government will assign the Colorado recreational marijuana cultivation facility a tier of licensure. These tiers are as follows:
Colorado’s General Stance on Cultivation.
The above is a good starting point to grasp home growing cultivation basics. However, counties and municipalities can pass stricter laws. Also, the rules are different for medical marijuana users.
Passed by ballot initiative in 2012, Amendment 64 legalized the private consumption of marijuana in Colorado, and the state officially added it to the state’s constitution on December 10, 2012.
Most Colorado citizens are well aware of the legalization of marijuana in their state. With the implementation of legalization came general public service information regarding the use of recreational marijuana.
He has also held roles training local law enforcement agencies and working with the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). As a result, he now uses his massive understanding of the criminal justice system and skills as a trial attorney to represent his firm’s clients.
For cultivation in a facility, there are additional considerations. These include that:
When you believe that you may be in violation of Colorado marijuana cultivation laws, the time to act is immediate.
Coloradans can grow marijuana in their homes for personal use. The Colorado government provides some relatively clear information regarding colorado marijuana cultivation laws for those growing at home. If you are being charged with a drug crime you should contact an attorney to go over the charge in Colorado.
The standard rules from OSHA and state laws that regulate businesses apply to marijuana cultivation facilities. In many ways, people consider Colorado a reasonably progressive state regarding marijuana cultivation laws. For home growers, the Colorado government actively suggests that people grow with care.