A marijuana plant grows at the Colorado Harvest Company in Denver, Colo. on Wednesday, July 8, 2015.

(Nathaniel Minor/CPR News)

The number of Colorado parolees getting busted for drugs has tripled in the last five years, according to the state Department of Corrections.

It wasn’t until recreational marijuana stores opened two years ago that the rate really spiked, said Melissa Roberts, director of adult parole for the Department of Corrections. Roberts said heroin and meth are a problem, but marijuana is driving the increase. 

She said a positive test is still a technical violation of parole, but doesn’t mean it’ll result in jail time.

"It’s really case by case," Roberts said. "We have to look at these cases individually to what the totality of that circumstance is."

For example, the punishment is more severe if the drug use is interfering with work or the ability to get housing or related to an inmate’s previous crimes. Roberts said they prefer to direct parolees to treatment, rather than send them back to jail.