Staying on the Right Side of Marijuana Laws

Using marijuana is legal in Colorado, but you do need to play by the rules. After all, with great flower comes great responsibility, especially when it comes to following the law. 

By: Colorado.com Staff Writer
Updated: July 2, 2024

We’ll fill you in on important things to know to stay on the right side of the law when using marijuana in Colorado.

Understanding the Laws

In Colorado, you have to be at least 21 years old to buy adult-use marijuana or partake in weed-friendly experiences. It’s legal for adults to possess up to 1 ounce of bud at a time. And you have to be a Colorado resident with a qualifying medical condition to purchase medical marijuana in the state.

Learn more about Colorado’s marijuana laws

How to Make a Legal Purchase

The only place you can legally purchase marijuana is at a licensed dispensary, and there are currently more than 500 adult-use shops across the state. These approved retail shops offer lots of different products, from flower and wax to gummies and teas. They’re also staffed by licensed “budtenders,” who can help guide your experience. To enter and purchase marijuana at a licensed dispensary, you’ll be asked to present valid identification, such as a driver’s license, so your budtender can verify your age and identity.

Enjoying Marijuana Responsibly

Marijuana products containing THC must stay in Colorado. It can’t be flown, mailed, driven, hiked or biked across state lines because it’s still federally illegal and against the law in Colorado’s bordering states. So, if you’re headed back home, you’ll need to responsibly dispose of any leftovers before you go.

While you’re here, it’s also important to be respectful of others and the law if you want to get high. Here are some guidelines to help you navigate the dos and don’ts of consumption:


  • Check local laws. Regulations vary from town to town and some municipalities have stricter laws than the state. For example, in some cities you can’t smoke in a yard unless it’s fenced in, even if you’re on private property.
  • Ask hotel staff. Review available hotel policies and talk to front-desk employees about their specific rules. State law prohibits lighting up and vaping in hotel rooms. Hotels may also prohibit smoking or vaping in outdoor areas such as courtyards, so consider products that offer other methods of consumption, like edibles.
  • Book private vacation rentals. Many Colorado vacation properties will note that they’re marijuana (or “420”) friendly, but don’t assume they all are. If you’re not sure, ask before making a reservation.
  • Stay with friends or family. Using marijuana is legal in private homes as long as the property owner says it’s OK.
  • Visit a licensed hospitality business. Colorado allows visitors and residents to consume at certain licensed businesses. When purchasing your goods, consider asking one of your professional budtenders for the inside scoop on these legal consumption options in your area.


  • Use it on federal lands. National parks, monuments and many of our ski slopes, hiking and biking trails are federal lands. Since marijuana is still federally illegal, these are definite no-use zones. So, don’t use it or even bring it when you go.
  • Consume in public, outdoor places. Colorado laws prevent consuming marijuana in a manner that is easily observed by other members of the public. This includes puffing in public spaces, including — but not limited to — concert venues, parks, streets, sporting arenas and building common areas. Eating edibles in public spaces isn’t cool either. An important exception to this restriction is a licensed hospitality business, which may offer patios and other outdoor areas for legal consumption.
  • Partake in a car. Consuming marijuana and driving is just like drinking and driving. It’s not safe or legal. And smoking in rental cars could rack up hefty fees, which probably isn’t the vacation experience you’re going for.


Driving High Can Lead to a DUI

Be smart and safe by waiting at least six hours after smoking to get behind the wheel. If you’ve enjoyed edibles or drinkables, hold off for at least eight hours. And the same rules go for passengers — don’t use bud in the car.

When driving your dispensary purchases back to your cannabis-friendly vacation rental, make sure all your goodies are sealed and unused, just as you would with alcohol. The best practice is to put them in the trunk until you reach your destination.

Just like with alcohol, there are major legal consequences for driving under the influence of marijuana. Don’t ruin your amazing vacation experience in Colorado by driving high. 

Want More?

Learn about tips for safer cannabis consumption

Here's how to dispose of cannabis products on your way out of Colorado

View licensed cannabis hospitality businesses


Note: The Colorado Tourism Office is updating the cannabis content section of the Colorado.com website based on state regulations and laws.