On Monday this week, Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill which will promote social equity in Colorado’s marijuana industry. Under this law, the governor will also have the power to grant pardons to people convicted for marijuana possession before legalization took place. Previously, the governor was required to consult the judge and state prosecutors involved in each case before granting a pardon.
Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed this new bill during a ceremony held at one of the minority-owned businesses in Denver.
The new law is important because it provides a state-wide definition of what business is to be regarded as a social equity marijuana applicant. The businesses that qualify will enjoy an accelerator program which had been planned before the bill was drafted. Benefiting businesses will use existing marijuana facilities to grow their own businesses.
The bill, which was sponsored by Rep. James Coleman (D), sets out two additional categories through which businesses can be eligible for the social equity license. The purpose of these extra categories is to right the wrongs committed during the enforcement of the war on drugs.
The new law states that someone can qualify as a social equity applicant if;
- They lived in a place designated as an economically distressed community for at least 15 years which should fall between 1980 and 2010.
- The applicant, or a member of their immediate family, has ever been convicted or even arrested for a marijuana offense.
- The applicant’s income is less than or equal to a certain threshold which will be determined later once the program is rolled out.
The supporters of this new law say that these provisions will clear the air with respect to the requirements in different jurisdictions, such as Denver, where marijuana equity programs had been enacted.
The state Assembly hadn’t included the provision giving the governor authority to issue unilateral pardons. However, the state Senate amended the bill and included this provision. The governor is now free to begin issuing these pardons, and the pardons will come into effect after 90 days once the signature has been appended to the paperwork.
Gov. Jared Polis said during the signing ceremony that it was wrong for people with convictions for possessing amounts of marijuana which are now legal to possess and consume to continue being unable to get mortgages, apply for jobs, get loans or other forms of capital due their criminal records.
Another notable provision in this bill is that it amends the current law which barred people with marijuana convictions from applying for marijuana business licenses. Under the new law, people applying under the social equity program will be exempted from this restriction.
Industry experts say the progressive direction taken in Colorado is likely to be applauded by sector players, such as Sugarmade, Inc. (OTCQB: SGMD).
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