Colorado could move to clear pre-legalization marijuana convictions statewide as soon as 2019

The Colorado Independent: Boulder’s district attorney last week announced plans to vacate and seal thousands of convictions for marijuana possession prior to the drug’s legalization in 2012. This week, Mayor Michael Hancock announced he seeks to do the same in Denver.

But much more sweeping action could be on the horizon: Interviews with a half-dozen state lawmakers and incoming Attorney General Phil Weiser indicate strong momentum for a move to clear all criminal records statewide for the tens of thousands of people convicted of low-level marijuana offenses — possession, use, possession of paraphernalia — prior to the passage of Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in the state and won 55 percent of the vote.

One legislator said she’s confident it’ll get done during the upcoming legislative session, which begins early next month.

“We will be introducing a bill” to clear low-level, pre-64 pot convictions, promised Rep. Edie Hooton of Boulder. “There’s no reason not to.”

At least nine states have recently made it easier for people convicted of certain marijuana charges to have their cases sealed or cleared altogether. Colorado is one of them, having last year passed a bill, co-sponsored by Hooton and Rep. Jovan Melton of Aurora, to allow people convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession before Dec. 10, 2012, to petition to have their convictions sealed.

But that bill put the onus on the people convicted, requiring them to petition in court to have their cases sealed, and to pay a $65 fee in the process. It anticipated only 5 percent of eligible people would follow through.

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