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Gov. Polis pardons those convicted of possessing 1 ounce or less of marijuana

The governor's office said individuals who are unsure whether a conviction on their record has been pardoned may fill out a form to request confirmation of a pardon.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) on Thursday signed an executive order granting pardons to those who have been convicted of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana.

In June, Polis signed the bipartisan H.B. 20-1424, sponsored by Rep. James Coleman, Sen. Julie Gonzales and Sen. Vicki Marble, including an amendment sponsored by Sen. Gonzales, which authorizes the governor to grant pardons to a class of defendants who were convicted of the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana.

Reps. Leslie Herod and Jonathan Singer were also champions of passing this legislation, according to the governor's office. The new law went into effect this month.

The governor's office said this pardon, under H.B. 20-1424, applies to state-level convictions of possession for one ounce or less of marijuana, as identified by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

> Full text: Executive Order on marijuana pardons

“We are finally cleaning up some of the inequities of the past by pardoning 2,732 convictions for Coloradans who simply had an ounce of marijuana or less," Polis said. "It’s ridiculous how being written up for smoking a joint in the 1970s has followed some Coloradans throughout their lives and gotten in the way of their success."

Credit: State of Colorado

“Too many Coloradans have been followed their entire lives by a conviction for something that is no longer a crime, and these convictions have impacted their job status, housing and countless other areas of their lives," said Polis. "Today, we are taking this step toward creating a more just system and breaking down barriers to help transform people’s lives as well as coming to terms with one aspect of the past, failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”

“This pardon is long overdue and will make a real difference in the lives of countless Coloradans,” said State Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver). “Far too many people in our state have continued to suffer the consequences of a small mistake made decades ago while others profit off of the booming and legitimized cannabis industry. I’m proud to have played a part in the justice being served today.”

Individuals who have these convictions did not need to apply for pardons, and the governor’s office has not conducted individual assessments of the people who have been pardoned through this process. Individuals convicted of municipal marijuana crimes, or individuals arrested or issued a summons without a conviction, are not included in the pardons.

The governor's office said individuals who are unsure whether a conviction on their record has been pardoned may fill out a form to request confirmation of a pardon on the CBI website.

To obtain an entire criminal history, people can visit CBIRecordsCheck.com. Once a conviction is pardoned, it will not appear on a criminal history obtained on the records check website, according to the governor's office.

“Today, our state has taken a major step forward in securing justice for the thousands of Coloradans who have been living with a conviction on their record for a crime that no longer exists in our state,” said State Rep. James Coleman (D-Denver). “For too long, these convictions continued the injustices perpetrated under the discriminatory policy of marijuana prohibition, making it harder for Coloradans with convictions to find housing, employment or access critical services. Governor Polis’ decision to grant these pardons will finally bring justice to Coloradans who have been denied opportunity and have continued to be punished for possession of small amounts of marijuana long after the state rolled back its prohibition.”

“These convictions for marijuana possession, which disproportionately fell on people of color, have persisted on Coloradans’ records despite being in opposition to our fundamental values of fairness, justice and opportunity for all,” said State Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont). “I’m proud our state is moving forward and righting this wrong.”

The State of Colorado has posted more information about the marijuana pardons in a FAQ document and at COMarijuanaPardons.com.

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