Colorado elected to decriminalize marijuana in 2000. First-time offenders possessing less than one ounce of marijuana are classified as petty offenders and fined $100 but face no jail time. If the offender displays or uses marijuana in public, however, the punishment increases to a misdemeanor violation and carries a heavier fine and jail time. Gifting less than one ounce of marijuana is treated as a petty offense, but the sale of any amount of marijuana is considered a felony and violators face hefty fines and imprisonment.

In addition to decriminalizing marijuana, Colorado has also enacted a conditional release policy that allows people facing their first offense to opt for probation rather than a trial. Once the probation is complete, the individual’s record does not reflect the charge.

Modern research suggests that cannabis is a valuable antiemetic, appetite stimulant and pain management tool. In Colorado, those suffering from a wide range of diseases may apply for a medical marijuana use card. Patients who suffer with terminal illness, for example, may obtain a physician’s recommendation for the use of medicinal cannabis and register with the state to possess up to two ounces of marijuana. Registered patients may also grow up to six marijuana plants, three mature and three immature. Registering as a medical marijuana patient is voluntary and the patient registration fee is currently $90. Though marijuana dispensaries, collectives and cooperatives exist throughout Colorado, the state-run registry does not maintain a relationship with them.