Smart Colorado is the only non-profit organization focused on protecting the health, safety and well-being of Colorado youth as marijuana becomes increasingly available and commercialized.

Smart Colorado formed after the 2012 passage of Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution, which legalized the sale and possession of recreational marijuana. We believe Colorado’s top priority around marijuana policy and education should be protecting our youth. Marijuana is illegal for those under 21 and a threat to their health and futures. Research is clear that marijuana is harmful to the adolescent developing brain as well as tied to psychosis, schizophrenia, drug addiction and lower IQ. Colorado’s youth are serving as guinea pigs in the state’s commercialization experiment.

Smart Colorado is a project of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center.


The founding members of Smart CO came together to protect the youth of Colorado following the passage of Amendment 64. This unprecedented and historical Amendment legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado. Many of our founding members were on Governor Hickenlooper's Task Force for A64 recommendations and saw firsthand how the rights and protections of our children were being overlooked. This inspired our leadership team to come together to be the voice for Colorado’s youth. We are involved with the State legislature, Department of Revenue rule-making procedures, educational panels, and grassroots outreach.

 Amendment 64 became law on December 10, 2012 as Article XVIII, Section 16 of the Colorado Constitution. It gave Colorado citizens an immediate ability to possess one ounce or less of marijuana (including concentrates like hash oil), consume marijuana and grow 6 plants. As of January 1, 2014, the sale and production of marijuana was commercialized through the licensing of recreational marijuana stores, grow facilities, testing facilities and product manufacturing facilities.

While recreational marijuana is treated differently for tax and regulatory purposes, the regulatory framework for recreational marijuana mirrors the framework established for the licensing of medical marijuana commercialized products. The licensing and regulatory requirements for “commercialized” medical marijuana can be found in the Medical Marijuana Code, which was created via  HB 10-1284 and was signed by Governor Hickenlooper on June 7, 2010.

Colorado's medical marijuana market developed for years without regulatory oversight. By the time the State scrambled to license and regulate medical marijuana there were already hundreds of shops in operation. Unfortunately, the regulations put in place with HB 10-1284, and the state infrastructure needed to enforce them, were woefully underfunded ( March 2013 Audit and  June 2013 Audit ). Amendment 64 passed because voters were led to believe the State would FINALLY begin to strictly regulate the sale and production of marijuana. Anxious to ensure robust regulation, several of us that would go on to form Smart Colorado served on the Governor’s Task Force to implement Amendment 64.

Our founding members began to meet and share their concerns as they watched powerful and well-financed representatives of the marijuana industry dominate the policy making process on the Task Force. After the “heath, safety, and well-being of Colorado children” was ranked last in priorities by the Task Force and no other groups or organizations spoke up on behalf of protecting Colorado youth, the founding members of Smart knew something had to be done.

Smart Colorado was formed in 2013 and has been the voice for children at the State and local legislative and policy levels ever since.

Recent News


Marking edibles: Smart Colorado on CBS Denver

“The public and our children have had no way of differentiating between a candy, soda and food that has marijuana in it, and one that does not,” said Diane Carlson, co-founder of Smart Colorado, in an interview with CBS Denver following a Mari


Video: Smart Colorado urges marking of edibles

“If it can’t be marked, how can it be regulated?” said Diane Carlson, co-founder of Smart Colorado, during a Marijuana Enforcement Division rulemaking hearing on Aug. 11, 2015. “It’s time we have a tool that we can let people


Marking Marijuana Edibles

Smart Colorado Spokesperson Diane Carlson on Marking of Marijuana Edibles during State Rulemaking Meeting Today Smart Colorado applauds the leadership of Colorado state legislators and the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) in proposing a regulatory fra


2015 Marijuana Rule Making

Smart Colorado Spokesperson Henny Lasley Comments on the State’s Upcoming Marijuana Rulemaking On Friday the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) released draft rules ahead of upcoming permanent marijuana rulemaking. During this year’s rulemaking


We Have Made a Difference!

Together We Have Made a Difference! With Your Help, We Are Protecting Colorado’s Kids Dear Smart Colorado Members: Throughout this spring important and hard earned protections were constantly in jeopardy. With your support and the courageous efforts o


Teens Host Anti-Pot Rally on 4/20

9News, Teens host anti-pot rally 4/20, April 20, 2015 Colorado kids are showing their peers that you don’t have to smoke weed to be accepted. High schoolers presented their projects illustrating the dangers of marijuana to a rally of 700 students, inclu


Kids Consuming More MJ in CO Than Other States

This state-by-state data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that kids in states with legal marijuana (recreational and medical) are consuming it at much higher rates than other states. Even before recreationa


Understanding the Youth Health Risks

Understanding the Youth Risks of Colorado’s Marijuana Colorado kids have been left to navigate an increasingly challenging landscape mostly on their own. It is critical they receive factual and credible information from trusted adults who have familiari


Smart CO in The Denver Post

Smart Colorado co-founder Henny Lasley wrote a letter to the editor of The Denver Post regarding clearly-identifiable marijuana edibles. The Denver Post, Marijuana edibles should be clearly marked April 8, 2015 Re: “Colorado shouldn’t give up on mari