Colorado Medical Marijuana Laws

Ballot Amendment 20 — Approved Nov. 7, 2000 by 54% of voters
Effective: June 1, 2001

Removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess written documentation from their physician affirming that he or she suffers from a debilitating condition and advising that they “might benefit from the medical use of marijuana.” (Patients must possess this documentation prior to an arrest.)

Approved Conditions: Cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS positive, cachexia; severe pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those that are characteristic of epilepsy; or persistent muscle spasms, including those that are characteristic of multiple sclerosis. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Colorado Board of Health.

Possession/Cultivation: A patient or a primary caregiver who has been issued a Medical Marijuana Registry identification card may possess no more than two ounces of a usable form of marijuana and not more than six marijuana plants, with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants that are producing a usable form of marijuana.

Patients who do not join the registry or possess greater amounts of marijuana than allowed by law may argue the “affirmative defense of medical necessity” if they are arrested on marijuana charges.

Amended: House Bill 1284  (236 KB) and Senate Bill 109  (50 KB)
Effective: June 7, 2010

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed the bills into law and stated the following in a June 7, 2010 press release:

“House Bill 1284 provides a regulatory framework for dispensaries, including giving local communities the ability to ban or place sensible and much-needed controls on the operation, location and ownership of these establishments.

Senate Bill 109 will help prevent fraud and abuse, ensuring that physicians who authorize medical marijuana for their patients actually perform a physical exam, do not have a DEA flag on their medical license and do not have a financial relationship with a dispensary.”

Do you live in Colorado and use medical marijuana? Tell us how it has changed your life in a comment below!

  1. […] Colorado and Washington state will hold fall referendums on legalizing marijuana. A ballot question on legalization failed in California in 2010. […]


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