The Laws

Summary of recreational marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington:


Regulated by: The Colorado Department of Revenue and Department of Public Health and Environment.

Who can buy: Adults who are at least 21. Those with a Colorado ID can buy up to an ounce at a licensed store and can give an ounce away as a gift. Those from other states can buy a quarter-ounce but cannot transport it over state lines.

Who can grow: Adults who are at least 21 can grow six plants, but only three can be mature and flowering.

Who can sell: Stores must be licensed. They can have medical dispensaries and recreational sales, but the areas must be separated because doses and amounts purchased can be higher for medical needs.

Where you can't partake: Smoking pot in public or in a licensed store is not allowed. Smoking is allowed on private property with permission of the owner.

Penalties: Those driving under the influence of pot can be ticketed in much the same way as if they were driving under the influence of alcohol. Tests must show more than 5 nanograms of THC (pot's psychoactive ingredient) for a person to be cited.

For illegal possession and distribution, penalties range from a petty offense to a felony. Possession of more than 2 ounces can mean jail time. Smoking in public can be a $100 fine or up to 15 days in jail. Sale of 5 pounds can be punishable by a sentence of two to six years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.



Regulated by: The Liquor Control and Cannabis Board.

Who can buy: People 21 and older. Non-Washington residents may also purchase pot from a licensed store but must consume it in the state. People can possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana in solid form or 72 ounces in liquid form.

Who can grow: Individual growing is not allowed.

Who can sell: Sales have not started, but stores must be licensed.

Where you can't partake: No public use or smoking in retail stores is allowed.

Penalties: Drivers can be ticketed. As in Colorado, tests must show at least 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood for a driver to be cited. Public consumption of an ounce, $100 fine; more than 40 grams, five years incarceration and $10,000 fine.


Interactive: Americans’ changing views on legal marijuana


Sources: NORML, Colorado Department of Revenue, Washington Liquor Control and Cannabis Board