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Colorado Drug Possession Laws

Many states, in an effort to relieve overcrowding in prisons, have loosened the penalties for non-violent drug offenders. But while Colorado has legalized the possession and recreational use of marijuana (within certain limits), the possession of most controlled substances remains a felony in the state. And while the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has allowed state legalization efforts to proceed unabated, marijuana possession is still technically illegal under federal law. But even the smallest amount of heroin or methamphetamine, for example, can land you in jail for up to 18 months.

Colorado's Controlled Substance Classifications

Each state classifies controlled substances (including both illicit drugs and those restricted to prescription use) are organized into "schedules" for purposes of crime classifications and penalties. The drug classifications in most states, including Colorado, are modeled after those established by the federal government. Examples of specific drugs listed in each of the controlled substance schedules are listed below:

  • Schedule I: heroin, LSD
  • Schedule II: opium, codeine, methamphetamine
  • Schedule III: hydrocodone, anabolic steroids, ketamine
  • Schedule IV: lorazepam
  • Schedule V: buprenorphine

Colorado Drug Possession Laws at a Glance

Below you will find basic information about Colorado's drug possession laws, including specific information about marijuana possession in the state.

Statutes

Colorado Revised Statutes § 18-18-403.5 , et seq.

Statutory Definition of Offenses

It is unlawful for a person knowingly to possess a controlled substance.

A person commits possession of drug paraphernalia if he or she possesses drug paraphernalia and knows or reasonably should know that the drug paraphernalia could be used under circumstances in violation of the laws of this state.

Drug Possession Charges

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: Drug petty offense (fine of up to $100).

Possession of a Controlled Substance

  • 4g or less of a substance with any amount of flunitrazepam, ketamine, or any other Schedule I or Schedule II substance: Class 6 felony
  • More than 4g of a substance with any amount of flunitrazepam, ketamine, or any other Schedule I or Schedule II substance: Class 4 felony
  • 2g or less of a substance with any amount of methamphetamines: Class 6 felony
  • More than 2g of a substance with any amount of methamphetamines: Class 4 felony
  • Substance with any amount of a Schedule III, IV, or V substance (other than flunitrazepam or ketamine): Class 1 misdemeanor
Possession of Marijuana

1 oz or less: No penalty

1 - 2 oz: Petty offense, $100 fine

Open and public displays or uses of less than 2 oz: Petty offense, up to 15 days in jail and/or $100 fine

2 - 6 oz: Class 2 misdemeanor,

6 - 12 oz: Class 1 misdemeanor, up to 18 months jail, up to $10,000 fine

More than 12 oz of marijuana or 3 oz of marijuana concentrate: Class 6 felony

Habitual Offenders

2 Prior Offenses: Defendant, if convicted of a third felony within a 10-year period, will be sentenced to a prison term three times as long as the maximum penalty for the underlying conviction.

3 or More Prior Offenses: Defendant, if convicted of a fourth felony within a 10-year period, will be sentenced to a prison term four times as long as the maximum penalty for the underlying conviction.

Penalties
  • Class 4 Felony: 2-6 yrs. in prison, $2,000-$500,000 in fines
  • Class 5 Felony: 1-3 yrs. in prison, $1,000-$100,000 in fines
  • Class 6 Felony: 1-1.5 yrs. jail, up to $100,000 fine
  • Class 1 Misdemeanor: Up to 18 months jail, up to $10,000 fine
  • Class 2 Misdemeanor: Up to 1 yr. in jail, up to $1,000 fine

Note: State laws are always subject to change. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult a Colorado criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources

Get a Free Legal Evaluation of Your Colorado Drug Possession Case

If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance in Colorado, you could be facing a lengthy prison term, steep fines, or both. As with any other felony, the outcome of your case will largely depend on the strength of your defense. Get a handle on your case today by having a Colorado criminal defense attorney evaluate your case at no charge.

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