Back in June, the governor of Colorado signed into law a marijuana bill that would promote social equity in Colorado’s marijuana market. On top of that, the bill would give Gov. Jared Polis the power to unilaterally issue pardons for prior marijuana convictions. Decades after the War on Drugs began, it is crystal clear that it has led to the over-policing of certain communities, and the bill was designed to fix some of these wrongs.
On Thursday, one day after the new law took effect, the governor signed an executive order granting nearly 3,000 pardons for people convicted of the possession one ounce or less of marijuana. Although the bill gives Gov. Polis the authority to grant clemency for cases of possession of up to two ounces, he limited it to one ounce because that’s the legal possession limit under Colorado’s cannabis program, his office said.
“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. 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,” Polis said in a press release. Marijuana convictions that were voided by the governor’s action took place from 1978 all the way through 2012.
“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. 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,” he added.
The new law states that “for the individuals pardoned in this Executive Order, all rights of citizenship associated with the pardoned conviction are restored in full without condition” and that “all civil disabilities and public sufferings associated with the pardoned conviction are removed.” Additionally, the process is automated and as a result, individuals who are eligible for the pardons don’t have to do anything to clear their own records. All they have to do is check a website to see if their pardon has been processed.
Governor Polis’ action also calls on the state Department of Health to “develop a process to indicate on criminal background checks which individuals’ convictions have been pardoned pursuant to this Executive Order.”
This corrective step taken by Colorado is likely to come as good news to the entire marijuana industry, including players like Pac Roots Cannabis Corp. (CSE: PACR) who have always believed that the criminalization of cannabis consumption is wrong.
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