Colo., Wash. Pot Regulations Compared

By Betty Wang, JD on October 20, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Colorado and Washington state have approved new pot regulations, nearly a year after voters approved measures to allow adults 21 and over to partake in the non-medicinal use of marijuana.

Washington adopted rules for its "legal" marijuana industry last week, while Colorado adopted its rules last month, according to The Associated Press. The rules in both states are largely the same, but there are still some notable differences.

Here's a comparison of some of the new marijuana regulations in the two states that allow adult marijuana use -- keeping in mind that marijuana remains illegal under federal law:

  • Obtaining licenses. The rules governing licensing in Washington state that those who wish to can obtain licenses to either grow, process, or sell pot -- but they must be obtained separately; Washington residents are limited to three licenses, the Washington State Liquor Control Board reports. In Colorado, on the other hand, separate licenses will be available for selling pot, growing pot, and producing edible pot products; residents may either apply for all three or obtain just one, without a limit either way.
  • Fees. As is the case with obtaining a license for many other legal activities, both states require fees to apply for a pot license. Washington plans to charge $250 per application, with an additional $1,000 in annual renewal fees; Colorado's fees range from $2,750 to $14,000, The AP reports.
  • Driving while high. Much like how there is a legal limit for blood alcohol levels, there is now a legal limit for blood levels of THC -- the psychoactive ingredient in pot -- under both Colorado and Washington's respective DUI laws. While both states have set their legal limit for THC at 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood, Colorado's law differs in that it actually allows for defendants to introduce evidence that the marijuana did not impair their driving capacity.
  • Possession and consumption in public. Under both Washington's Initiative 502 and Colorado's Amendment 64, those who are 21 or over may possess up to an ounce of marijuana. But both states also prohibit smoking marijuana in public.

Again, remember that federal law (not to mention common sense) still prevails. For example, while Washington and Colorado have "legalized" pot, residents still can't mail or ship bud to friends. That could lead to federal drug charges.

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