Recreational Marijuana Use in Colorado

While Colorado has passed amendment 64 allowing for recreational marijuana use, the consequences of this amendment are seen in state emergency rooms and an increase in hospitalizations related to marijuana use.

The sale and consumption of recreational marijuana continues to rise in Colorado as more and more residents and visitors are taking advantage of the state’s passing amendment 64. In amendment 64, adults over the age of 21 in Colorado can legally possess one once or marijuana or THC. This includes marijuana buds (flowers) as well as the variety of concentrated and edible forms of the drug. This change in marijuana regulations is not just for residents of Colorado, it also includes visitors to the state.

The purchasing limit for marijuana for non-residents of Colorado is restricted to ¼ ounce for each transaction. The reason behind this law is so that visitors do not go from one retailer to another in order to amass a great quantity of marijuana to export. Many of the recreational stores that sell marijuana have chosen to only serve each customer once a day in order to confirm to the law. While this restriction applies to the sale of marijuana, the amount an individual (resident or non-resident) can posses is an ounce.

When it comes to consumption of recreational marijuana, discretion is appreciated, and usually required. The law does not permit user’s to consume marijuana “openly and publicly”. This law prohibits public cannabis clubs but some relatively new “private” cannabis clubs have opened where individuals can purchase a day membership. Some of these “private” cannabis clubs allow for indoor smoking, while others choose to only allow inside vaping and outside smoking.

While there are many supporters of Colorado’s amendment 64, this change brings several concerns for those in the drug addiction rehabilitation field. The impact of this change can be seen in the number of DUI drug arrests in the state; 25-40% of these arrests involved marijuana since amendment 64’s passing. Reports show that in 2012, 10.47% of Colorado’s young adults’ ages 12-17 were considered current marijuana users; this number is significantly higher than the national average of 7.55%. Currently, Colorado is ranked forth in the nation for underage marijuana use, 39% higher than the national average.

A 2013 report stated that 48.4% of Denver, Colorado adult arrestees tested positive for marijuana, a 16% increase from a previous report in 2008. Marijuana related emergency room visits have increased too. One report noted that from 2011 through 2013 there was a 57% increase in emergency room visits related to marijuana. Additionally, there has been an 82% increase in hospitalizations related to marijuana use since 2008.


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