On June 15, 2020, the Colorado legislature took another important step towards reducing the life-long consequences of minor drug convictions by passing House Bill 1424. The bill, among other reforms for those working in the legal marijuana industry, has simplified the procedures necessary to apply for a pardon for a marijuana conviction for possession of 2 ounces or less. The bill has been heralded as allowing Governor Polis to issue “mass pardons” for such convictions.
While recent laws have allowed many Coloradans to seal drug convictions, a sealed conviction still exists in government and law enforcement databases even when not available to the public. It continues to cause collateral consequences, such as preventing firearm ownership due to a felony conviction. By comparison, a pardon removes all collateral consequences.
HB 1424 amends the pardon statute, C.R.S. 16-17-102, with an additional subsection that does not require the extensive documentation that normally must accompany a pardon application when made for a conviction for possession of two ounces or less of marijuana.
While the governor may consider all circumstances in granting the pardon, information such as a certificate from the institution where a person was incarcerated speaking to their behavior and input from the prosecution and sentencing judge are not required. The streamlined process allows the governor and attorney general, both supporters of criminal justice reform related to drug convictions, to decide on issuing a pardon.
The Act will go into effect 90 days from the adjournment of the Colorado legislature on June 15, unless subject to a referendum. Certain procedural steps, such as the filing fee for a pardon, remain to be determined.
There may be more good news to come. HB 1424 was proposed and passed at the last minute, with promises of future bills that provide even more comprehensive relief for those with drug convictions that are preventing them from succeeding while living a law-abiding life.
We at Jurdem, LLC applaud the Colorado legislature for continuing to pass laws that recognize the unfair and life-altering impact drug convictions can have and providing ways for Coloradans to move forward with a clean slate. If you or a loved one have a drug conviction and want to discuss the possibility for it to be sealed or applying for a pardon, please give us a call at 303-800-3509.