Colorado automatically pardons 3000 marijuana convictions, making it one of the most marijuana–friendly states in the US. The move is part of an effort to reduce the number of people who are incarcerated for marijuana–related offenses.
Colorado‘s marijuana laws have come a long way. In 2012, Amendment 64 made possession of one ounce or less of marijuana legal for adults 21 and over. This latest move builds on that effort, and it‘s hoped that it will help to reduce the number of people who are incarcerated for marijuana–related offenses.
On October 1, 2020, Governor Polis followed through on the plan to pardon low-level marijuana convictions using the power the legislature gave him earlier this year.
His executive order granted full, automatic pardons for the almost 3,000 people with small pot possession charges before possession of one ounce or less became legal in the state.
“This is an important step in righting the wrongs of the past and helping to ensure that all Coloradans are treated fairly and equally,” Governor Polis said in a statement. The order also pardons any charges related to the sale, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana, as well as charges for possession of more than one ounce.
Though he has the power to pardon convictions for up to two ounces of pot, Gov. Polis decided to limit the pardons to those possessing once ounce or less. This matches the amount legalized by voters in 2012 with the approval of Article 18, Section 16 of the Colorado Constitution.
Current state law permits possession of up to one ounce, though it is still a federal crime to possess any amount of marijuana. In Colorado, possession of between 1 and 2 ounces is a petty offense. This means that it is less than a misdemeanor offense, though the consequences of any criminal conviction can be life-altering. Before pleading guilty to anything, it is important to understand what you’re giving up. Pardons like this are very unusual.
The pardon details will be ironed out later, but one thing that is certain is that people do not have to take any action for this pardon to affect them. Because the pardon is automatic, it does not have to be applied for.
Municipal violations are not included in the pardon. This means that someone who was convicted of possession in a municipal court will still have a criminal record. Only convictions in county and state court are affected.