Colorado Drug Trafficking Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

In the context of illicit drugs, the term "trafficking" refers to the act of moving large quantities of drugs for distribution, often involving multiple states and/or international transactions. While most states have no specific charge for drug trafficking, per se, charges and penalties for distributing illicit drugs are based primarily on the amount and type of drug.

In Colorado, the sale or distribution of more than 112 grams of methamphetamine or heroin, for instance, can land you in prison for up to 32 years. But being convicted of distributing the same amount of anabolic steroids will result in a maximum prison sentence of six years.

Trafficking Legally Grown Marijuana to Other States

The legality -- at least under state law -- of recreational marijuana in Colorado, raises questions about its sale beyond state boundaries. Colorado law makes it clear that legally produced marijuana ceases to be legal once it crosses state borders. While failure to comply with Colorado medical or recreational marijuana regulations can result in drug charges (listed in the table below), it's more common for authorities in the destination states to file charges of possession or possession with intent to sell against the recipient. If it crosses state lines, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) may also be more inclined to take action (especially if suspects in multiple states are part of the same investigation).

An Overview of Colorado Drug Trafficking Laws

The way that statutes are written can make it difficult to get a quick and straightforward answer to a legal question. For this reason, it can be helpful to read a summary of the statute in plain English. An overview of Colorado drug trafficking laws, specifically the charges and penalties under state law, is provided in the following chart.

Statute(s)

Colorado Revised Statutes Title 18. Article 18, Part 4, Section 18-18-405, et seq. (Unlawful Distribution, Manufacturing, Dispensing, or Sale)

Statutory Definition of Offense

It's unlawful for any person to knowingly:

  • manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, or to possess with intent to manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, a controlled substance;
  • induce, attempt to induce, or conspire with one or more other persons, to manufacture, dispense, sell, distribute, or possess with intent to manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, a controlled substance; or
  • possess one or more chemicals or supplies or equipment with intent to manufacture a controlled substance.
Charges for Sales and Distribution of Controlled Substances (Excluding Marijuana)

Level 1 drug felony: Any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that weighs:

  • Over 225g and contains a schedule I or II drug;
  • Over 112g and contains methamphetamine, heroin, katamine, or cathinones;
  • Over 50mg and contains flunitrazepam; or
  • Transfer of any amount to a minor.

Level 2 drug felony: Any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that's transferred to a minor or which weighs:

  • 14-225g and contains a schedule I or II drug;
  • 7-112g and contains methamphetamine, heroin, katamine, or cathinones;
  • 10-50g and contains flunitrazepam.

Level 3 drug felony: Any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that weighs:

  • Up to 14g and contains a schedule I or II drug;
  • Up to 7g and contains methamphetamine, heroin, katamine, or cathinones;
  • Up to 10g and contains flunitrazepam; or
  • Over 4g and contains a schedule III or IV drug.

Level 1 drug misdemeanor:

  • A schedule V drug; or
  • Transfer (without an actual sale) of 4g or less of a schedule III or IV drug.
Marijuana Sales and Distribution Charges (When Regulations are Violated)

Level 1 drug felony: Over 50 lbs. marijuana or over 25 lbs. concentrate

Level 2 drug felony: 5-50 lbs. marijuana or 2.5-25 lbs. concentrate

Level 3 drug felony: 12 oz.-5 lbs. marijuana or 6 oz.-2.5 lbs. concentrate

Level 4 drug felony: 4-12 oz. marijuana or 2-6 oz. concentrate

Level 1 drug misdemeanor: Under 4 oz. marijuana or under 2 oz. concentrate

Penalties

Level 1 drug felony: 8-32 yrs. in prison, $5,000-$1 million in fines

Level 2 drug felony: 4-16 yrs. in prison, $3,000-$750,000 in fines

Level 3 drug felony: 2-6 yrs. in prison, $2,000-$500,000 in fines

Level 4 drug felony: 6 mos.-2 yrs. in prison, $1,000-$100,000 in fines

Level 1 drug misdemeanor: 6-18 mos. in jail, $500-$5,000 in fines

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Colorado Drug Trafficking Laws: Related Resources

Learn More About Your Drug Trafficking Case: Call an Attorney

If you've been charged with drug trafficking in Colorado -- or rather, the sale or distribution of a large amount of drugs -- you most likely will be facing a lengthy prison sentence upon conviction. The best way to defend yourself in court and get the best outcome possible is to work with an experienced lawyer. Get started today by reaching out to a Colorado drug crime lawyer.

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