At the end of 2012, Colorado became the first state in the country to make marijuana legal for recreational use, states CNN. After 55 percent of voters in the state voted in favor of the legalization of this drug, residents of the state can now purchase marijuana similar to the way they would buy alcohol. Those with a state-issued identification card who are over the age of 21 can buy up to an ounce at licensed retailers and medical marijuana patients can possess up to two ounces of this drug at a time, states U.S. News.
Nearly 2,000 arrests
Due to the legalization of marijuana in the state, arrests for possession of this drug plummeted in 2013. However, according to U.S. News, between September and December of that same year, 1,194 people were still arrested for possession of less than two ounces of this drug.
There are several proposed reasons why people have been arrested for possessing this drug after its legalization. One is that these arrests may have been caused by a misunderstanding of the law. Before the legalization of marijuana, for over a decade, medical marijuana patients were allowed to possess two ounces of this drug. Another suggestion is that some law enforcement officials may have used their discretion when making these arrests to intentionally undermine the law. Due to this, it is suspected that law enforcement officials may not have received sufficient training to implement this new law.
Consequences for minors
According to U.S. News, of the arrests made during the time period, many of the drug charges were filed against those between the ages of 18 to 21. Although marijuana usage is illegal for those under the age of 21, CNN states that the city of Denver:
- Decriminalized marijuana usage for those between the ages of 18 and 21
- Removed the requirement for those in this age group to spend time in jail if they are caught with an ounce or less of marijuana
- Still requires minors to pay a fine if they are caught using or possessing this drug
Additionally, those who are caught with marijuana, and who are under the age of 18, now face the potential of going to a juvenile detention center instead of jail. Although the penalties for marijuana possession and usage have become less severe as a result of the decriminalization of this drug, an arrest for drug possession can still have serious consequences. If you believe you were wrongly arrested on marijuana possession charges, consult with an attorney in your area who can ensure your legal rights are protected.