Steamboat WonderGuide: Colorado Substance Law 101 |

Steamboat WonderGuide: Colorado Substance Law 101

Julia Ben-Asher/For Steamboat Today

Photo by Hans Brunk

— If you haven't been to Colorado in a few years, some things related to substances have probably changed a tad or two. Our laws here might also be pretty different from those of your home state. Here's a quick summary of basic substance laws and policies you should know while you're here.


Amendment 64 allows adults 21 years and older (and with a government-issued ID to prove it) to legally possess as much as 1 ounce of THC in the state. Public consumption or open possession of marijuana is an offense that can earn you a citation. In terms of being prosecuted for driving under the influence, the legal limit for active tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in your system while operating a vehicle is 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood. However, law enforcement officers base arrests on observed impairment, no matter driver's level of THC detected in a blood test. Marijuana consumption remains illegal at the federal level, meaning consuming marijuana on federal land is also illegal. Being on national forest land, Steamboat Ski Area

The potency of edibles is often difficult to predict, but is generally more intense than the effects of smoking marijuana. The THC can take 30 minutes to several hours to take effect, and can be felt for as many as 10 hours. Because of the difference in how eaten cannabis is metabolized the liver, it has a more psychedelic effect than THC that was smoked. Individual responses to edibles also vary drastically from person to person, as do the doses of THC in different products.


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In Colorado, it is illegal for people younger than 18 years old to purchase, possess or smoke nicotine products.

Steamboat Springs' Smoke-Free Air Act of 2005 prohibits smoking in places of public accommodation within the city.

The festival has a designated smoking area on site around the wood burning fire pit, and requests that smokers dispose properly of cigarettes.


Beer, wine and spirits will be available for purchase; attendees are not allowed to bring their own alcohol into the festival. At the three heated beer tents, serving tastings from 20 Colorado craft breweries from 2 to 5 p.m. daily, tastings will be poured into tasting cups.

The maximum legal blood alcohol content level, or BAC, for a driver who's 21 or older in Colorado is .08 percent for a DUI. The offense of Driving While Ability is Impaired, or DWAI, includes a limit of .05 percent.

Attendees are reminded to not bring alcohol outside of festival boundaries.

A note for festival-goers arriving from flatlands: studies in the late 2000's showed that, contrary to what many believe, being at higher altitude doesn't make the effects alcohol more potent. The lower oxygen levels of higher altitude can induce fatigue that impedes mental and physical abilities, though, and alcohol can make the symptoms of altitude sickness (which often are similar to those of a hangover) worse. Being at altitude also causes dehydration, which can affect how a person processes alcohol, so be sure to drink the recommended 4 to 6 liters of water per day to stay hydrated.

A bonus of being your crew's designated driver: DDs get free non-alcoholic beverages on-site. This is part of the festival's ongoing effort to be known as the “Zero Arrest Fest.”

Keep in mind that this festival is an inclusive, family-friendly event for all, from babies to senior citizens. Steamboat Springs police and fire personnel will be at the festival to ensure safety.