By Lauren Glendenning
Marijuana might be legal in Colorado, but there are still plenty of ways to break the law if you’re not careful
Colorado might be the first state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana, but don’t confuse that rebellious vote against the federal government with lawlessness.
As the legal marijuana industry has grown and evolved since the first day of sales on Jan. 1, 2014, the vast majority of the people involved in the trade have worked especially hard to create a responsible and professional industry.
Melissa Finn, manager of The Green Joint in Glenwood Springs, said in order for the industry to continue to be successful and potentially influence federal policy change, customers must be dutiful and consume responsibly.
“We’re at the forefront of this industry (in Colorado), so all eyes are on us,” she said. “We want people to follow the law.”
Here are 7 ways you can stay out of trouble and relax responsibly this summer.
- Know the product, take it slow
When looking for the right cannabis product or dosage, it’s important to know your goals. Do you want to be active and go on a hike, or do you want to relax and sit on the couch?
“An intermediate level strain with low THC is good for out-of-towners who want to experience cannabis but not get their butt kicked,” said Brian Sullivan, The Green Joint’s vice president of operations. “There are so many different aspects of marijuana these days.”
In the 1970s, THC content in cannabis was around 7 percent. The state of Colorado now reports an average of 17 percent THC in today’s cannabis.
With edibles, Finn and Sullivan advise people to start with a single, low-dosage serving and always wait at least two full hours before taking more. The high from an edible can last 4 to 6 hours, more long-term than smoking, which lasts roughly 45-minutes.
“Start slow,” Sullivan said. “If you need more, you can always eat more later, but you can’t undo it if you ate too much.”
- Do not drive while high
Driving while stoned is no different than driving while drunk — the police will arrest you and charge you with a D.U.I. if they determine there’s THC in your system. The same is true for open containers of cannabis products. Stay away from the driver’s seat if you’ve been consuming marijuana. Visit http://www.codot.gov for more information about cannabis and driving.
- Do not consume cannabis in public
The law in Colorado requires people to use cannabis in certain designated places. It’s not legal to walk down the street smoking a joint. Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson said the biggest issue his department sees with cannabis is public consumption.
“It’s prohibited everywhere that other people have a right to be,” he said. “This includes all streets, sidewalks, alleys, parks, paths, etc.”
- Keep your edibles out of reach from children and pets
The state of Colorado passed a new law last year that required edibles to have generic shapes, meaning gummies are no longer in the shape of bears or fruit, Finn said. The idea is to make the edibles not look like anything that might appeal to a child. While edibles are sold in child-resistant containers, it’s still important to keep them in a place that’s secure from pets and children.
- Keep your marijuana in Colorado
Transporting marijuana out of Colorado is illegal. Consume it here and do not bring it with you across state lines.
- Don’t use on federal lands
Federal lands in Colorado include many ski areas, national parks, hiking and biking trails, and camping spots. The federal government has not legalized marijuana and those who use it on federal lands can be arrested and prosecuted.
- Don’t mix with alcohol or other drugs
When consuming cannabis, especially for those who aren’t used to the effects or are visiting Colorado from sea level, don’t mix it with other drugs or alcohol. It could lead to a bad time.”We want you to have a good time,” Finn said. “We want you to enjoy yourself.”