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Pardons for Outdated and Low-Level Marijuana Crimes

When it comes to legalized marijuana, Colorado helped blaze the trail in decriminalizing both medicinal and recreational uses of cannabis. State residents passed the Colorado Amendment 64 in November of 2012. In January of 2014, it became the law of the land.

However, for those with minor marijuana convictions on their respective public records that impair, if not prevent them from getting a job or finding a place to live, making pot legal would not turn back the clock.

A Second Chance

More than 2,700 convictions remained on the books for Coloradans convicted of possession of an ounce or less of pot, an amount that Amendment 64 makes legal to possess. While the arrests occurred before legalization, many Coloradans felt the burden of carrying around a criminal conviction for possessing a drug no longer considered a banned substance and the consequences that came with it.

In the interest of “creating a more just system and breaking down barriers,” Colorado Governor Jared Polis put pen to paper, signing a bill providing him the authority to issue pardons to state residents convicted of possessing up to two ounces of marijuana and then following up with an executive order issuing a mass pardon for over 2,700 convictions for less an ounce.

There is some bad news. The pardons do not apply to those convicted of municipal or federal offenses, along with arrests or summons without a conviction.

The good news for those who qualify for the pardon is that there is no application to file or additional paperwork to fill out in most cases. If a conviction was part of the mass pardon, the process is automatic, giving many Coloradans a much-needed and long-awaited second chance. Those who qualify under the new bill but were not included in the first mass pardon can apply for clemency or wait for another round of mass pardons.

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