Despite a rocky year for the marijuana industry, the cannabis community continues to receive good news in the social justice arena. According to a statement released by Vicente Sederberg LLP, a top-ranked national cannabis law firm with offices across the United states, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis pardoned those individuals who were convicted of cannabis possession for up to one ounce of the drug.
Better still, unlike other states that have made pardons and expungements a difficult process, Colorado has set up a website, comarijuanapardons.com to help residents determine whether or not the new law applies to their situations.
According to a report in the Denver Post, the new pardons will apply to 2,732 convictions that occurred prior to the legalization of cannabis in Colorado. Individuals convicted in municipal courts or other states will not benefit from the pardons.
Amendment 64 legalized possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for adults 21 and older in November of 2012. The possession of cannabis officially became legal the following December, while legal, regulated sales first occurred in the state in 2014.
The Colorado General Assembly enacted legislation in June giving the governor the authority to grant these pardons.
"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,” said Brian Vicente, founding partner of Vicente Sederberg LLP and one of the lead authors of Amendment 64 in a statement.
He continued: “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."
Meanwhile, Jordan Wellington, a partner at VS Strategies, who, according to a statement “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,” thanked the governor for his actions.
"We want to thank Gov. Polis, Reps. Coleman and Singer, and Sens. Gonzales and Marble for helping to make these pardons possible,” said Wellington in a statement. “The governor's pardon was an important step toward righting some of the wrongs caused by cannabis prohibition.”
He continued: “But it is not the last step. We must 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."