Drug Offenses FAQ

Drug Defense Lawyers Serving Eagle + Garfield Counties

Get Answers to Questions About Colorado Drug Offenses

Colorado drug penalties depend on the offense or act committed, the type of drug, and the drug amount involved in the charges. Generally, all Colorado drug charges fall into three categories: petty offenses, misdemeanors, and felonies.

1What if I’ve been charged with a petty drug offense?
Petty drug offenses are punishable by the fine amount assigned to the offense in the Colorado statutes. They include things like public consumption of marijuana or possession of drug paraphernalia.
2What if I’ve been charged with a misdemeanor drug offense?
Misdemeanors are more serious than petty offenses but less serious than felonies. Drug misdemeanors are either DM1 or DM2.
3What is the difference between DM1 and DM2 charge?

DM1 – These misdemeanors are the more serious offenses. Examples of a DM1 offense include distribution, manufacturing, or possession with intent to distribute; or cultivation of less than 6 marijuana plants. Penalties for these offenses range from 6 to 18 months in jail and/or a fine up to $5,000.

DM2 – These misdemeanors are less serious than DM1 charges. Examples of a DM2 offense include abusing toxic vapors, use or possession of synthetic cannabinoids, and possession of 2 to 6 ounces of marijuana. Penalties for DM2 offenses range from 0 to 12 months in jail and/or a fine up to $750.

4What can happen if I’ve been charged with a felony drug offense?

Felonies are the most serious drug offenses and are punishable by lengthy prison sentences and very large fines. In Colorado, drug felonies have four levels: DF1, DF2, DF3 and DF4.

Sentencing is also determined by a range of factors that can be either “presumptive” or “aggravated.”

Presumptive sentencing is most common and the default sentencing range; however, aggravating factors, such as the offender’s criminal history, parole status, etc., may persuade a judge to apply an aggravated sentence, which favors tougher sentencing and fine requirements.

A trial by jury is available to people who are charged with a Colorado drug crime. For first- and second-time drug offenders, Colorado has implemented special “drug courts” where defendants can enter into treatment programs in lieu of fulfilling a sentence.

DF1 – Examples of a DF1 offense include the distribution of any amount of schedule I or schedule II controlled substances to a minor (if the adult is at least 2 years older than the minor); or the distribution of ANY material that has specific amounts of schedule I or II controlled substance combined. Penalties include mandatory minimum sentencing from 8 years up to 32 years and fines up to $1 million.

DF2 – An example of a DF2 offense include distribution of any amount of schedule III or schedule IV controlled substance to a minor (if the adult is at least 2 years older than the minor). Penalties include sentencing from 4 up to 8 years and fines up to $750,000.

DF3 – A level 3 drug felony might include distribution of any material that weighs 14 grams or less, and the material contains a schedule I or II controlled substance. Penalties include sentencing from 2 up to 4 years and fines up to $500,000.

DF4 – Level 4 drug felonies are categorized as DF3 except when distribution is for the purpose of sharing use of drugs at “a time substantially contemporaneous” with the exchange of drugs. Penalties include sentencing from 6 up to 12 months and fines up to $100,000.

5What are my legal rights for having my own marijuana or medical marijuana?

Despite Colorado allowing “recreational marijuana” and “medical marijuana”, possession of marijuana can still be illegal under Federal Law and if a person’s possession of marijuana goes beyond the legal possession limit of the substance allowed by Colorado law.

If a person has a medical marijuana license, there is only a limited amount of the substance that that person can legally possess. If someone is a medical marijuana caregiver, there are also strict rules on the amount that the caregiver can legally possess or cultivate. While they are becoming rarer, there have been prosecutions for possession of marijuana amounts in excess of what the medical marijuana law allows. This is a quickly changing and evolving area of the law.