Know the Law

Not only can drugs and alcohol affect your relationships, and physical and mental health, there are legal consequences of using drugs and alcohol that can have a significant impact on your life. It’s important to know and respect the laws that were put in place to keep you and others safe.


  • In Colorado, recreational marijuana and alcohol are legal, but only for persons 21 and over.
  • It’s a felony if someone over 21 gives recreational marijuana to someone under age.
  • Medical marijuana is only legal if you have a medical marijuana recommendation from a physician.
  • It is against the law for anyone to sell or give alcoholic beverages to you or to let you drink with him or her in a bar or a store.
  • If you borrow a driver's license or change the age on yours to show that you are over 21, you are breaking the law. Any person who gives a false ID to you is also committing a crime. You cannot lend, borrow, or alter a driver's license or other ID in any way.
  • Depending on the drug involved, use of a prescription drug not prescribed for you by a physician can be a felony.



Any person younger than age 21 caught with or suspected of consuming alcohol or marijuana is charged with Minor in Possession (MIP).

A youth can be charged with MIP in Municipal Court or District Court. Which Court the charges are filed in is based on many factors, including where the alleged offense took place, the severity of the alleged office, the law enforcement agency involved, and whether or not the youth has had previous charges.

In Municipal Court punishment typically include:

  • First offense: Fine up to $100 and/or required completion of a substance abuse education program.
  • Second offense: Fine up to $100, the required completion of a substance abuse education program, a possible order for substance abuse assessment and related treatment, and 24 hours of public service.
  • Third offense: Fine up to $250, the required completion of a substance abuse assessment and any related treatment, and up to 36 hours of public service.
  • District Court often involves supervision from a case manager throughout the court process, including regular UA’s, monitored school performance, and reports from home. The Judge may order an evaluation or therapy as a part of the court process, and non-compliance with either the supervision or court orders may result in a short stay in a juvenile detention facility. Punishments for MIP in District Court can also include up to 2 years of supervised probation.

If [a youth is] caught driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you could be required to do community service, take educational courses, receive steep fines, lose your license or even face jail time. It’s important to know that even trace amounts of alcohol are punishable to people under the age of 21.

Anyone under the age of 21 who has a BAC level of .05 and higher can receive the same administrative and criminal penalties as an adult driver.

CDOT estimates the costs associated with a DUI charge (blood alcohol content of .08 or greater) to be $13,000+ and includes lawyer fees, rising insurance rates, fees to get a license back, probation supervision fees, etc.

For additional information about the laws/punishments related alcohol and drug use, visit No DUI Colorado.


If you get caught using drugs and/or alcohol, there are likely other consequences you will face (beyond getting in big trouble with your parents). You could get kicked off your sports team and/or suspended/expelled from school even if the incident did not occur on school grounds nor during the school day.

If you are a college student, you could lose your financial aid.

Next time you’re offered a drink (and/or drugs), ask yourself: are the risks worth it?