(Almost) Everything You Need To Know About Colorado And Washington Pot Legalization


Last night, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. But, as laws go, they’re often tacked on with limitations, restrictions, and other counterintuitive stuff you might not expect when you hear the word “legalization” (often confused with “decriminalization.”) Fortunately for the pro-marijuana camp, the recently passed initiatives seem reasonable enough. Here’s a breakdown of each state’s new law.


Legalized. Obviously. Specifically–

  • You can smoke weed legally now! Inside of your house though. Use in public is illegal.
  • You don’t have to go through a dealer any more! There will be specially regulated shops that sell pot to people who are over 21. However, the amendment requires the Colorado Department of Revenue to begin regulating marijuana businesses no later than July, 2013, and they must begin processing business applications by October 2013. So depending on the DOR, it might be awhile before you see these shops popping up.
  • You can have your very own grow op! Adults can grow up to six plants for personal use, but they can’t possess more than three mature plants at once, and the plants can’t be where the public can see them.
  • Driving high is illegal. Can’t drive stoned.
  • In 30 days you don’t have to worry about getting busted anymore! Parts of the law concerning “individual behavior” will go into effect within 30 days (personal possession and consumption).

Here’s a Denver Post article that provides more details. It also raises questions about how Federal authorities will react to legalization, as it’s in direct opposition to Federal regulation.

Here’s an overview of the initiative, and the full text.

TL;DR It is now legal for people who are over 21 to buy pot at officially regulated dispensaries in Colorado, but you might not see dispensaries popping up for another year or so. It will be legal to possess and smoke pot within 30 days (the gap between the DOR providing business licenses and the law for “individual behavior” taking effect is weird, though). No smoking in public. And don’t drive under the influence of that shit. If you want to set up a little grow op, you’re allowed to have up to six plants, but they can’t be within public view. And pot dealers, you may need to start looking into other careers (or legitimizing your current one!).

If I’ve gotten any of this wrong, please let me know and I’ll update accordingly.


Legalized. Slightly more restrictive than Colorado’s legalization. Details:

  • You can smoke weed now! And maybe in public! I don’t know, but here’s a video of people celebrating in public last night.
  • You’ll be able to buy weed from the store! There will be specially regulated shops that sell pot to people who are over 21 (controlled and sold by state liquor board) (unclear on when).
  • You can carry it around! Adults over 21 can purchase and possess up to one ounce in “usable form,” 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, 72 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form or “any combination” of all three. (direct pull from Wikipedia)
  • You can grow! But only if you get a license.
  • Say farewell to your dealer! No unauthorized selling anymore.
  • No driving while high! (There were some rumors that cops can cite you with a DUI if there is any weed in your system at all, including residual THC from smoking pot up to a month ago. This is apparently not true. From a reddit user: “According to scientific research cited by The Stranger, THC levels drop below the 5 nanograms-per-milliliter cutoff within a few hours of smoking.” Here’s the user’s source material.
  • Law takes effect on December 6th. Unsure when they’ll be processing business applications for weed shops.

Here’s an article at the local FOX affiliate’s website. Here’s an excerpt:

Estimates are that the new pot tax would raise nearly $500 million a year, much of which would be earmarked for drug prevention and education programs.

Here’s a detailed Wikipedia summary of the initiative.

And here’s an awesome overview of the measure.

The measure in Washington won by a 10 point margin — 55 to 45 percent.

TL;DR If you’re over 21 and in Washington you can start smokin’ legally on December 6th. You can hold up to an ounce of herb, up to 72 ounces of your favorite pot-infused beverage, and up to 16 ounces of pot brownies. If you want to grow, you gotta apply with the state. Drug dealers, find a new job. And again, don’t drive on that shit, it’s dangerous, and it’ll count as a DUI.

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