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Marijuana and Colorado’s minor in possession laws

Nearly everyone who lives in Colorado knows that marijuana use is now legal if used in accordance with state law. The exception to that rule is the same as it is for alcohol consumption — individuals under the age of 21.

The state has always had minor in possession laws designed to prevent those under the legal drinking age from making mistakes that could affect the rest of their lives. Now, those laws also apply to the use of marijuana.

What constitutes possession?

Possession for minors does not only mean having marijuana on their persons. It also applies if any of the drugs are within the control or immediate presence of minors. If your minor child is in possession of or uses marijuana, he or she could face a charge for minor in possession. The amount does not even have to be over an ounce to violate the state’s law. The only exception is medical marijuana use.

What constitutes marijuana paraphernalia?

The law extends beyond the drug itself and may include paraphernalia used with marijuana. Paraphernalia is any materials, equipment or products designed for the following uses:

  • Inhaling
  • Ingesting
  • Planting
  • Propagating
  • Producing
  • Cultivating
  • Compounding
  • Manufacturing
  • Growing
  • Harvesting
  • Processing
  • Packaging
  • Testing
  • Repackaging
  • Storing
  • Composting
  • Analyzing

Generally, anything having to do with marijuana within a minor’s custody and control could lead to a charge of minor in possession.

What penalties could a minor face?

Your child could face the following penalties if convicted of possessing marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia here in Colorado:

  • First offense:
    • Maximum fine of $100
    • Substance abuse education
  • Second offense:
    • Maximum fine of $100
    • Mandatory substance abuse education
    • Mandatory substance abuse assessment
    • 24 hours of public service
  • Third offense:
    • Maximum fine of $250
    • Mandatory substance abuse assessment
    • 36 hours of public service

Depending on the results of the substance abuse assessment, the court may also order your child to undergo treatment.

The exception to the rule

Your child may avoid charges of minor in possession if he or she called 911 if another minor required medical assistance after consuming marijuana. In order to avoid criminal prosecution, however, your child must provide his or her name to the 911 dispatcher, be the first to make the call and remain at the scene until help arrives. This exception allows minors to get help for someone else without fearing repercussions for doing the right thing.

Safeguarding your child’s future

Even though minor in possession is a petty offense, the long-term consequences of a conviction on your child’s record may require taking the charge more seriously. Scholarships, college admission and even some employment opportunities may be lost, which could have a profound effect on your child’s future. If you have questions regarding dealing with a charge of minor in possession, help is available.

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