Understanding Colorado’s Synthetic Marijuana Laws

  • Jun 19 2017

Synthetic cannabinoids are man-made chemicals intended to mimic the effects of marijuana, and they are usually marketed as a safe and legal alternative to this drug. However, in addition to being largely untested and potentially hazardous to users’ health, Colorado’s laws regarding synthetic marijuana impose stiff penalties for the sale and use of these chemicals. Below is an overview of the charges and penalties associated with synthetic marijuana in Colorado.

Crimes and Penalties under Colorado Law

Unlawful Use or Possession of Synthetic Marijuana – As of 2012, it is illegal to use or possess synthetic marijuana in Colorado. The possession of synthetic marijuana in Colorado is a level 2 drug misdemeanor and it is punishable by a fine of $50 to $750.

Unlawful Distribution of Synthetic Marijuana – In Colorado, it is a level 3 drug felony to distribute, manufacture, dispense, or sell synthetic marijuana. In addition, it’s illegal to possess synthetic marijuana with the intent to carry out any of the previously described acts. Associated penalties include between 2 and 4 years in prison and a fine of between $2,000 and $500,000.

However, the distribution of synthetic marijuana rises to the status of a level 2 drug felony if:

  • An individual dispenses, sells, or distributes synthetic cannabinoids to a minor under the age of 18 years old; and
  • The distributor is at least 18 years old and a minimum of 2 years older than the minor who purchased the synthetic marijuana.

The potential consequences of a level 2 drug felony conviction include a sentence of 4 to 8 years in prison and a fine of between $3,000 and $750,000.  

Crimes and Penalties under Federal Law

Not only are synthetic cannabinoids illegal under Colorado law, they are also outlawed pursuant to the federal Controlled Substances Act. Under this act, possession of synthetic marijuana is punishable by up to 1 year in federal prison and a fine of no less than $1000.

In addition, the sale of synthetic marijuana, also known as trafficking, is a federal felony punishable by a fine of up to $1,000,000 and up to 20 years in federal prison. While the federal government typically leaves synthetic marijuana prosecution up to the states under state laws, charges related to synthetic marijuana offenses committed on federal property may only be brought by the federal government. Examples of federal property include interstate airports, federal buildings, post offices, federal courthouses, and national parks.

If you’ve been charged with the possession or distribution of synthetic marijuana, it’s imperative that you engage the services of an experienced criminal law attorney in order to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. At the Blair Law Office, we take pride in guiding our clients through each step of what can be an overwhelming process. Please contact us for a free consultation at (720) 897-1550 or (888) 694-2093 (toll-free).

Posted in: Drug Crimes