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A look at Colorado's marijuana industry

Libraries serve as your go-to source for information on the topics that impact your life. Love it or hate it, Colorado made history on Jan. 1, 2014, when it became the first state in the country to legally sell marijuana to the public for recreational use. As the state charters this new territory, residents are trying to navigate the facts. 


  • You must be at least 21 years old to purchase and consume retail marijuana. It is illegal to give or sell retail marijuana to minors. 
  • Recreational use allows adults 21 and over to possess up to 1 ounce and grow up to six plants, three of which can be flowering. 
  • Though the creation of public spaces for marijuana consumption is being hotly debated, currently it is only legal to consume it privately in your home.
  • Colorado’s new DUI laws reflect the legalization of marijuana and provide a technical legal limit for operating a motor vehicle as 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood. Self-monitoring the legal limit is tricky, and Colorado’s Department of Transportation notes that any amount of marijuana can put you at risk of impaired driving, advising against it entirely. 

The economics

$996 million: Annual sales of retail marijuana in Colorado for 2015. 

$135 million: Taxes and business fees collected by the State of Colorado from retail marijuana in 2015. Collected taxes are earmarked for school construction, law enforcement, youth programs and drug education initiatives.

20 percent: Current tax rate, including state, local and special taxes, for recreational marijuana in Denver, Colorado. 

Myths & Facts

Can you can get high just by eating the plant?
No: Some cannabinoids must be activated by heat and are soluble in fats and alcohol. 

Is marijuana a “gateway drug”?
Under debate: points out that marijuana use may prime your brain for different experiences, but doesn’t guarantee you will move on to different drugs. 

Is marijuana bad/good for your health?
Marijuana and its effects on the human body are still being studied, and its use can be both harmful and beneficial depending on a number of factors: 

  • The way marijuana is ingested matters. For example, smoking marijuana is damaging and carcinogenic to the lungs. 
  • Marijuana impacts brain development, and therefore can have greater short- and long-term impact on younger people and teens. 
  • Marijuana is used to treat a variety of medical ailments and illnesses, including epilepsy, chronic pain and nausea.

Learn more: If you have questions about legal marijuana in Colorado, visit your local Anythink for additional resources. 

Sources: State of Colorado, Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Pot Guide, Colorado Department of Revenue, The Cannabist, American Lung Association,

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