Oct 1, 2020

Colorado Governor Pardons 2,732 Past Convictions for Low-level Marijuana Possession

DENVER — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order Thursday granting pardons to individuals convicted of possessing up to one ounce of marijuana. The state has set up a webpage — comarijuanapardons.com — to help people determine whether the pardon applies to them.

The Denver Post reports the mass-pardon will apply to 2,732 convictions that occurred in state courts prior to Colorado's legalization law taking effect. It will not apply to individuals convicted in municipal courts or other states.

Colorado voters legalized possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for adults 21 and older when they approved Amendment 64 in November 2012. Possession officially became legal the following month, and regulated legal sales to adults began taking place in January 2014.

The Colorado General Assembly enacted legislation in June that granted the governor the authority to pardon a class of defendants who were convicted of possessing up to two ounces of cannabis.

Statement from Brian Vicente, founding partner of Vicente Sederberg LLP and one of the lead authors of Amendment 64:

"Cannabis prohibition in Colorado ended nearly eight years ago, but it continues to affect the lives of the countless individuals who were convicted of offenses prior to legalization. Having even the lowest-level offense on your record can make it difficult to get a job, find housing, or receive financial assistance. We applaud Gov. Polis and the Legislature for demonstrating leadership on this issue and taking the initiative to do right by Coloradans who were convicted for something that is no longer a crime in our state."

Statement from Jordan Wellington, partner at VS Strategies, who lobbied in support of expanding the governor's power to pardon cannabis convictions, and who is working to pass additional cannabis expungement legislation next year:

"We want to thank Gov. Polis, Reps. Coleman and Singer, and Sens. Gonzales and Marble for helping to make these pardons possible. The governor's pardon was an important step toward righting some of the wrongs caused by cannabis prohibition. But it is not the last step. We also need to continue pursuing broader expungement, so people with cannabis convictions, including those who were just pardoned, are not haunted by the stigma of a cannabis conviction on their record. Our coalition of cannabis businesses, advocates, and allies look forward to continuing this conversation with the Legislature next session. Lawmakers stepped up on this issue last session, and we're excited to continue working with them to improve the lives of Coloradans still suffering from the collateral consequences of cannabis prohibition."