New Law Allows Colorado Governor to Pardon Marijuana Convictions
Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill into law that will allow him to pardon marijuana convictions that occurred before the state legalized marijuana in 2012.
>House Bill 1424, passed by lawmakers on June 15, is aimed at increasing social equity in the cannabis industry. The bill allows Colorado residents who have been arrested or convicted of a marijuana offense, been subject to civil asset forfeiture related to a marijuana offense, or applicants living in economically disadvantaged areas to
A last-minute amendment to the bill gave the governor the ability to issue mass pardons for marijuana convictions of 2 ounces or less without approval from judges or district attorneys.
“There’s too many people that have a prior conviction for personal amounts of cannabis fully legal today that prevent them from getting loans, from getting leases, from raising capital, from getting licenses, from getting jobs, from getting mortgages, and that’s wrong,” Polis said during the bill signing. “We hope that this measure will be a first step for new opportunities for thousands of Coloradans who should not be living with a cloud over their head simply because they were a little bit ahead of their time.”
While the governor will have the ability to issue a mass pardon, the process isn’t automatic. People with marijuana convictions will still have to apply to clear their records.
While the new law is a step towards social equity in the cannabis industry, the Black Cannabis Equity Initiative and the Colorado Black Round Table urged Polis in a letter to immediately release low-level cannabis offenders and expunge their records.
This Pardon and Expungement are not the face of social equity in Colorado, however, they are important action steps in recognizing and acknowledging systemic and institutional racism as well as the past barriers and significant omissions in the evolution and history of the Colorado cannabis industry.”
The law will take effect in 90 days.