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Colorado Heroin Laws

For most of us, heroin is a mysterious drug, both demonized and glorified in movies, books, and on TV. Maybe you've seen films or TV series depicting the inner workings of the drug trade. Or you've read about musicians who have used or abused heroin. And while social attitudes might be trending toward more leniency when it comes to some recreational drug use, heroin is a Schedule 1 drug and its possession and sale remains illegal under both federal and Colorado drug laws.

Drug charge convictions, especially for dealing, can carry severe penalties including significant prison time and heavy fines. As an example, the possible penalties for heroin sale in Colorado are severe, ranging from two to 32 years in prison, and fines up to $1 million. However, some jurisdictions, and Colorado is one, have recently set up specialized "drug courts" that can allow first- and second-time drug crime defendants to enter into drug treatment programs in lieu lengthy jail sentences.

Heroin Laws in Colorado At A Glance

Depending on where you live, the particulars of state drug laws can vary. The following table outlines Colorado's heroin laws.


Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-18-203 (heroin is a Schedule I controlled substance)

Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-18-403.5 (possession of any quantity of heroin is unlawful)

Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-18-404 (unlawful use of heroin)

Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-18-405 (unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing or sale)

Penalties for Possession

Level 4 Drug Felony: This is punishable by between 6 months and 1 year in prison and between $1,000 and $500,000 in fines.

Penalties for Use

Level 2 Drug Misdemeanor. This is punishable by between 3 months and 1 year in prison and between $250 and $1,000 in fines.

Penalties for Distribution, Manufacturing, Dispensing or Sale

Level 1 Drug Felony: If over 112g or if in a substance over 225g, if any quantity is transferred to a minor, or if any quantity is transferred on the grounds or within 1,000 feet of any public or private elementary school, middle school, junior high school, high school, vocational school or public housing development. This is punishable by between 8 and 32 years in prison and between $5,000 and $1 million in fines.

Level 2 Drug Felony: If between 14g and 225g. This is punishable by between 4 and 8 years in prison and between $3,000 and $750,000 in fines.

Level 3 Drug Felony: If under 14g. This is punishable by between 2 and 4 years in prison and $2,000 and $500,000 in fines.


Defenses can include:

  • Mistake of fact
  • Lack of intent
  • Involuntary intoxication
  • Duress/coercion

For more information on defenses see Drug Possession Defenses.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Colorado Heroin Laws: Related Resources

As Coloradans know well, our drug laws can change, often as our social norms on drugs in general do. For more information on Colorado's drug laws in general, see the resources below.

Facing Drug Charges? An Attorney Can Help

Staying aware of Colorado's heroin laws can not only help you to avoid criminal charges but can also help you when fighting a prosecution. If you are facing charges, however, you don't want to go down that road alone. There are trusted criminal defense attorneys in your area with years of experience who can help you. 

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  • Drug crime laws involve many specifics that can quickly change a case

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