Governor Jared Polis has signed a bill that grants him the power to pardon people who were charged with possession of two ounces of marijuana or less before the state legalized the plant in November 2012, and he confirms that he intends to use that power.
Originally drafted to define social equity applicants in the marijuana industry, Representative James Coleman’s House Bill 1424 eventually included an amendment giving Colorado governors the right to issue mass pardons with approval from local judges or district attorneys. The new law will take effect September 14, ninety days after the final adjournment of the Colorado Legislature.
“There are 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 jobs, from getting licenses, from getting mortgages — and that’s wrong,” Polis said before signing the bill. “We hope that this measure will be the first step toward new opportunities for thousands of Coloradans who should not be living with a cloud over their heads simply because they were a little ahead of their time.”
Polis will be able to issue the pardons for possession of up to two ounces of marijuana — the possession limit in Colorado for medical marijuana patients — en masse, but former offenders still have to seek their pardons, because there is currently no state database that lists all marijuana possession crimes. However, the process is expected to be streamlined after its implementation is worked out by Polis’s administration and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
Polis signed the upcoming law at Denver dispensary Simply Pure.
According to Sarah Gersten, executive director of marijuana criminal reform organization the Last Prisoner Project, Colorado’s process for a marijuana pardon