Colorado’s Current Drug Laws

Colorado Drug Possession, Criminal Defense Lawyer

In 2019, Colorado passed a new law de-felonizing most low-level drug possessions charges. The bill, HB 19-1263, also created a grant, hoping to redirect funds to Drug Courts that help people fight addiction. This law went into effect in March of 2020.

Currently, under C.R.S. 18-18-403.5, the majority of simple drug possession crimes became class 1 drug misdemeanors. Unless a person possesses more than four grams of a controlled substance, or any amount of flunitrazepam, ketamine, or gamma-hydroxybutyrate, the person will now be charged with a misdemeanor, rather than a felony. If it is the person’s fourth or subsequent offense, the person can be charged with a class 4 drug felony. However, it is critical to remember that possession of controlled substances with the intention to distribute them remains a drug felony in the majority of cases. Possession with intent to distribute is governed by a different law, C.R.S. 18-18-405.

In practice, this means that most people who are arrested with a small, personal use amount of controlled substances, whether the substance is cocaine, heroin, psychedelic mushrooms, methamphetamine, etc. are charged with drug misdemeanors.

See the drug felony sentencing chart below:

Class                             Presumptive Range                 Parole                        Fine   

Drug Felony 18*-32 years prison3 years after prison$5k to $1 mil
Drug Felony 24-8 years prison2 years after prison$3k-$750k
Drug Felony 32-4 years prison1 year after prison$2k-$500k
Drug Felony 46 months –1-year prison1 year after prison$1k-$100k
Drug Misdemeanor 16 months – 18 months jailNone$500-$5k
Drug Misdemeanor 2No jail – 12 months jailNone$50-$750

*Note: Unlike the other provisions, a Level 1 Drug Felony requires a mandatory sentence to prison. (at least 8 years). See C.R.S. 18-1.3-501(7).

** Any Felony drug crime can become aggravated for several reasons. If aggravated, the person faces double the possible maximum in prison. 

We can Help

Facing criminal charges may seem daunting. Even though most drug possession cases are misdemeanors instead of felonies, they can still carry serious penalties and consequences in your life. As criminal defense lawyers serving the Western Slope, Front Range, Vail Valley, Roaring Fork Valley, and the Denver Metro Area we know how these charges are pursued locally. If you are looking for a criminal defense or drug crime attorney, please contact us at (970) 315-2365 or e-mail us at