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


Happy New Year

January 2, 2015 How are Colorado kids faring under marijuana commercialization? Please read Smart Colorado’s end of year assessment, “Children’s safety over marijuana industry profits,”  featured in the Denver Post this week. In 2014, wi


60% of HS Students Say Marijuana is Harmless

Risks to Colorado youth from using marijuana are considerable yet perception of risks remain low.  Only 44.8% of Colorado adolescents surveyed in recently released Colorado Healthy Kids Survey believe consuming marijuana presents a great risk.  In a re


Colorado Ranks 2nd in Nation for Youth Marijuana Use

Colorado is second in the nation when it comes to regular marijuana users ages 12 and up, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health Survey data from 2012-2013 showed marijuana monthly use increased by 22% from 2011-12.   California policy e


A Year in Review

 Kids in role of “guinea pigs” 1 year into Colorado’s recreational pot “green rush” DENVER – Colorado’s children are playing the role of “guinea pigs” in the statewide experiment in recreational marijuana legalization and early signs po


Accidental Ingestions of Marijuana in CO

Dangers from accidental ingestions of marijuana remain a deeply concerning issue in Colorado, particularly for young children and teenagers. Channel 7 reports on yet another toddler who accidentally ingested marijuana this week. This incident along with m


Public Marijuana Consumption Citations On The Rise

Open and public consumption of marijuana has become an issue for Denver.  The number of citations for publicly consuming marijuana and displaying marijuana  have increased dramatically according to Denver Police and as reported by Colorado Public Radio.


Unexpected Impacts of CO’s Marijuana Policies

In a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association Drs. Andrew Monte, Richard Zane and Kennon Heard highlight the history of Colorado’s marijuana policies and the unexpected impacts such policies are having on the health systems in C


Jeffco Students Speak Out

Colorado youth are concerned about marijuana, especially the widespread misperception students and their friends have that using the drug is healthy, not harmful. The Just Say Know youth team at Jeffco Public Schools decided to create a video to help educ